Catching Up With Laura Pierce (Fitchburg State Women’s Basketball)

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Laura Pierce, who competed and coached at Wheaton College, was recently named the new women’s basketball coach at Fitchburg State University. (PHOTO COURTESY: Fitchburg State Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Laura Pierce was ready for that next step in her coaching journey.

She had gained valuable experience at both Wesleyan University and Wheaton College as an assistant for both women’s basketball programs but appeared eager – and ready – to become a head coach.

And that eagerness – and readiness, too – paid off as she was recently named the new women’s basketball coach at Fitchburg State University.

“I am excited to get to work with the young women to create a culture in which our program makes Fitchburg State proud on the court, in the classroom, and in the community,” said Pierce in the press release announcing her hiring.

Pierce inherits a Falcons squad that finished 9-17 a year ago, including 2-10 against Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) foes.

The Falcons did qualify for the MASCAC Tournament last winter but saw their bid for a conference crown conclude in the quarterfinals against Bridgewater State University.

Coaching in the MASCAC is something Pierce is very excited about – she described the conference as “really competitive,” while also noting that “you have to bring your best effort every (single) evening.”

Said Pierce, “My hope is that we enter the gym every day with the mindset of effort, focus, and attitude because it will help us be successful, both this upcoming season and in the future.”

Prior to becoming an assistant for both the Cardinals and Lyons, Pierce enjoyed an impressive career at Wheaton, tallying 622 points, 253 rebounds, 424 assists, and 68 steals in 100 games played. Pierce, who was a three-year captain, also attended “So You Want to be a Coach” Program at the Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Florida in April of 2015 before graduating from Wheaton one month later.

Noontime Sports recently spoke with Pierce about her excitement for leading her own program, but also what she learned as both a student-athlete and assistant from Coach Melissa Hodgdon.

What excites you about coaching your own program?

Being able to teach the game I love while shaping these young women’s lives.

Coaching is about so much more than the X’s & O’s (on a chalkboard). It’s about building relationships and mentoring (your players) to become the best they can be, both on and off the court. I have had many coaches and mentors along the way that I have played for and coached with, and they have all have shaped me into the coach and person I am today.

I think the exciting thing about coaching your own program is having a vision and being able to shape that vision throughout the season. It’s all about the process and we’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s such an exciting time for the Fitchburg State women’s basketball program.

Do you feel your previous stops as an assistant at Wesleyan and Wheaton have prepared you for a successful first season with Fitchburg State?

Absolutely. Kate Mullen, who is the is the head coach of the Wesleyan women’s basketball team, took a chance on me – she hired me right after I graduated college (in May of 2015) and I will be forever grateful to her for providing me with my first collegiate coaching role.

Coach Mullen gave me the opportunity to coach and prepare to play against teams in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which is one of the most competitive Division III women’s basketball conferences in the country. 

I am really fortunate that both Coach Mullen and Melissa Hodgdon gave me an opportunity to learn and grow as a young coach (these past few years). I consider them not just mentors, but great friends, as well.

Tell me about your experience learning and playing for Melissa Hodgdon. How did she help mold you into the current coach you are today? 

I honestly had never heard of Wheaton until Coach Hodgdon began recruiting me. But attending Wheaton and playing for her was the best decision I ever made.

Coach Hodgdon challenged me every day to become the best basketball player I could be so I could reach my highest potential on the court with hopes of leading the Lyons to a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championship.

Her biggest impact though is she genuinely cares about each and every one of her players.

I missed my entire sophomore year with a knee injury, but that didn’t stop Coach Hodgdon from including me in team activities. She made sure I was included and kept me engaged throughout the entire season while allowing me to see the game from her perspective. And once my sophomore year concluded at Wheaton, I knew I wanted to become a collegiate basketball coach when I graduated, so I began gaining experience as an intern at the Duke University women’s basketball camp, along with several local camps, too, before I returned to campus for my senior year.

A few years after my final season with the Lyons, I returned to campus after completing my graduate assistantship program at Wesleyan – I knew (deep down that) I wanted to return to Wheaton and assist Coach Hodgdon, who established a program that meant so much to me, both as a student-athlete and assistant coach.

Being able to work (and learn) from Coach Hodgdon as an assistant was an amazing experience. She challenged me to become the best coach while giving me responsibilities that prepared me for my next step in my coaching journey.

Finally, what goals and objectives do you have for the team heading into the upcoming season?

We have a great group of young women returning this year as well as a couple of incoming first-year student-athletes that are excited to get to work. We’re going to focus on getting better every day, whether that be in the classroom, weight room, film room or on the court.

We are also going to have this mindset of getting better (every single day). But our number one goal is always going to be to represent the Fitchburg State community with class and pride.


Stay connected with our New England basketball coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_Hoops

Introducing ‘This Is Noontime’

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By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11

In just a few weeks, Noontime Sports will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary, which is hard for me to fathom.

When I started my site as a junior in college, my intentions were simple: get a job in sports media and shut down your little entity that was predominantly focused on analyzing Boston sports – well, more attempting to opine on various hot stove issues surrounding the Boston BruinsCeltics, and Red Sox, as well as the New England Patriots, too.

But over time, the site became more than just a hobby that produced daily or weekly podcasts on independent baseball or whatever I was watching on ESPN.  Instead, it became a labor of love. And that labor of love blossomed into an outlet that covered games at Harvard StadiumTD Garden, and WPI. And the list goes on and on.

The journey seemed unimaginable for a soon-to-be 21-year-old who was ready to imagine life after Wheaton College (Mass.). But looking back on the past ten years, I am so proud of what I built (and established) within the small college space, along with the occasional major and minor league sports coverage, and yes, some high schools, too.

My site has connected me with some amazing people, including current and past editors, writers, and stringers throughout the New England region, to new friends like Anthony Karpouzis of Zelos AthleticsBrett Sillari of Sillari Properties, and Mike Loveday of LaxRecords.com. 

Additionally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my two favorite D3 football guys – that would be James Baker and Frank Rossi – as well as Rusty Eggen and Mark Therien, who helped establish a partnership with the Worcester Area College Basketball Association (WACBA). All four have inspired me to produce content that highlights the true meaning of the student-athlete – I owe a lot to all four of these guys and am forever thankful for their help and support of coverage.

Of course, there are others that have made this journey so special like Tom Kelley, who became the first Division III football coach I ever spoke with when I elected to begin covering the small college sports beat in 2012 to Larry Anderson and Sonia Raman at MIT. And how could I forget Melissa Hodgdon, who has always believed me in since I was a student at Wheaton when I broadcasted her various basketball games, including an epic New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship win over Springfield College in 2008.

‘This is Noontime’ is a testament to the amazing people I have met throughout this journey – it is a tribute to their buy-in and appreciation for what I set out to do, which again provided hyperlocal sports coverage to the Division III world (and yes, even Division I and II in New England) years ago. (Did you know I tried to get UMass football on my radar?) 

My hope is this series, which you will see both here on NoontimeSports.com, as well as across social media, will inspire you to chase your dreams and follow what you love. I can’t say this has been an easy journey – nope, there have been a slew of challenges I have faced and overcome – but again, I am proud of what I attempted to do and thankful to so many people for allowing me to step into their office, swap texts or emails, or speak with me for a 20 minute call, so I could tell their story through various mediums like features and podcasts.

I am excited to begin this new series and hope you will enjoy as much as I do, so stay tuned for the first video episode, as well as some written insight, as well.

WACBA Honor Roll: Women’s Basketball Week Four (Dec. 4th)

WACBABy WACBA Hoops | @WACBAHoops 

WORCESTER  Another busy week of Worcester area basketball has been recorded, which means its time to unveil our fourth Worcester Area College Basketball Association (WACBA) Women’s Basketball Honor Roll, including our Player and Rookie of the Week honors.

Make sure to stay connected with @WACBAHoops today on Twitter for game results, news and more.


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WACBA Women’sPlayer of the Week: Adrianna Dowdy (Becker College | Sr. | East Haven, Conn.): Dowdy was absolutely dominant this past week, averaging 25.5 points per game with 13.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.5 assists. The senior team captain exploded for 26 points and 18 rebounds in Becker’s 48-45 victory on Saturday at Elms College. This came after her 25 & 8 performance against New England College earlier in the week, a narrow 63-58 loss to the Pioneers. Dowdy currently leads the NECC in shooting percentage and is ranked third in rebounds.

Korbey HS WACBA Women’s Rookie of the Week: Calli Korbey (Worcester State | Fr. | Hopkinton, Mass.):Korbey enjoyed her best week with the Lancers, netting 23 points in two games, including a game-high 18 points in her team’s 66-58 win last Saturday over Keene State. Against the Owls, she netted a season-high four triples, while finishing the contest with six rebounds, four assists and one steal. Prior to her stellar performance against Keene State, she netted five points on 2 of 4 shooting, while adding a trio of defensive caroms in a 61-46 setback to Connecticut College.

Women’s Basketball Honor Roll

Catherine Coppinger (Fitchburg State | Jr. | Boston, Mass.): Coppinger averaged a double-double of 12.5 points and 14.5 rebounds per contests as well as four steals and 4.5 assists in a 2-0 week for the Falcons. She netted a double-double of 21 points and 15 boards to go along with four assists, five steals and one block in an 87-62 triumph against Elms on Tuesdays before adding four points, 14 rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block in a 73-54 victory over Lasell on Saturday.

Lauren Manis (Holy Cross | Jr. | Franklin, Mass.): Manis posted two double-doubles in a pair of contests last week against Vermont and UMass Lowell. She recorded a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds against the Catamounts before tallying 18 points and 17 rebounds against the River Hawks. Manis has now registered six double-doubles this season.

Kate Surprenant (Worcester State | Sr.|Pelham, N.H.): In a 1-1 week for the Lancers, the senior guard averaged 17 points, 6.5 rebounds, two assists and 1.5 steals. She started the week by netting 14 points, including eight freebies, in her team’s 61-46 setback to Connecticut College before exploding for a season-high 20 points on 6 of 11 shooting, including 2 of 6 from beyond the arc in her team’s sixth win of the season over Keene State. In addition to netting 20 points against the Owls, Surprenant recorded seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.

WACBA Milestone/Highlight: Congratulations to the former Holy Cross assistant women’s basketball coach Melissa Hodgdon, who recently became the all-time winningest coach at Wheaton College last week when the Lyons defeated WPI in their New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) opener. The win over the Engineers provided the tenured bench boss with her 208th win win the Blue and White.

Hodgdon, who has been coaching at Wheaton since 2003, helped Holy Cross capture a trio of Patriot League crowns, while leading the Crusaders to three NCAA Division I Tournaments (2000, 2001 & 2003). She also helped the Crusaders make an appearance in the 2002 National Invitation Tournament (NIT), as well. 


Stay connected with WACBA Hoops on Twitter by following @WACBAHoops 

 

Noontime Sports 2016 Year In Review

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By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11)

Ah, the final day of 2016 has arrived.

And just like past years, it’s time to revisit some of our favorite stories from the past 12 months.

Yet, unlike past years, this year’s ‘year in review’ is made-up of a variety of stories from ‘Catching Up’ to features on the Amherst College and Endicott College football programs to Wheaton women’s basketball providing Coach Melissa Hodgdon with her 200th win as a head coach.

I also made sure to highlight a few podcasts from the past few months – yes, Noontime Sports the Podcast returned this summer and I am super excited to host the 16th episode, which will be posted later next week.

So, sit back, relax, and re-read or listen to some of our biggest posts from 2016, and have a wonderful and safe Happy New Year!

See you in 2017!

New England D3 Hoops: Wheaton Set To Host Fifth Annual Cheryl Warren-Powers’ 95 Tournament

It will be a special weekend for Wheaton College as they host the fifth annual Cheryl Warren-Powers '95 Tournament. (Photo Credit: Wheaton College Women's Basketball)

It will be a special weekend for Wheaton College as they host the fifth annual Cheryl Warren-Powers ’95 Tournament. (Photo Credit: Wheaton College Women’s Basketball)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11

It’s a special weekend for the Wheaton College women’s basketball program, as the Lyons will host the fifth annual Cheryl Warren-Powers ’95 Tournament, beginning this evening in Emerson Gymnasium.

The two-day event celebrates the life of Warren-Powers, who sadly passed away on May 22, 2012. A two-sport athlete (basketball and softball) at Wheaton, Warren-Powers became the second female basketball player at Bishop Feehan High School (Attleboro, Massachusetts) to score 1,000 career points.

“(This event) is for her twins (Jordan and Craig),” said Wheaton women’s basketball head coach Melissa Hodgdon. “A lot of alums will be coming back (to campus), we will be hosting an alumni game Saturday morning and a reception afterward.

“There will also be some (former classmates) from Cheryl’s class that will be here Friday and Saturday, and the twins will be speaking, along with Cheryl’s brother prior to Friday night’s game.”

As noted on the school’s athletic website, fans are encouraged to donate to the Little Angles of Warren-Powers Memorial Fund, which benefits Cheryl’s twins, Jordan and Craig, by visiting their GoFundMe page here: https://www.gofundme.com/2tv67744

Wheaton will commence the two-day tournament with a 5:30 p.m. contests against New Jersey City before Framingham State takes on Newbury College at 7:30 p.m. Both winners will advance to Saturday’s tournament final at 3 p.m. with a consolation contest scheduled for 1 p.m.