Catching Up With Rachel Norton (Bowdoin College Women’s Basketball)

Rachel Norton has guided the Polar Bears to eight-straight wins this season. (PHOTO CREDIT: Brian Beard/CIPhotography.com)

Rachel Norton has guided the Polar Bears to eight-straight wins this season. (PHOTO CREDIT: Brian Beard/CIPhotography.com)

By Bob Whitney (@WhitneyBob)

Former Braintree High School scholar-athlete Rachel Norton is finishing her senior year at Bowdon College.

The 2013 Braintree High School graduate, three-sport captain (volleyball, basketball and lacrosse) and honor student has continued to excel at the collegiate level, both in the classroom and on the basketball court.

Norton, in her senior year, is the captain of the Polar Bears’ basketball team where she has led the squad to an 8-0 record and a No. 13 ranking in the most recent national poll (third in the Noontime Sports Women’s Basketball Top 10).

Norton took some time out of a hectic exam week schedule to reflect upon her college experiences.

What motivated you to continue to play at the college level and why did you chose Bowdoin?

I’ve played sports for as long as I can remember, and I just wasn’t ready to give that up after high school. I couldn’t imagine not continuing to play basketball, and perhaps more importantly, I couldn’t imagine not being part of a team. I chose Bowdoin because it has strong academics and athletics, and I felt that I would have a good balance between the two.

What have you noticed are the biggest differences in transitioning from playing in high school to college?

I would certainly say that the pace of the game is significantly faster in college. Everyone is stronger, faster, and quicker.

How prepared were you to play at the collegiate level?

I definitely experienced a transition period on the court where it took me some time to adjust to the faster pace of the college game. However, I think I was extremely prepared for college in the sense that I knew what kind of player and teammate I needed to be at the next level, and I can thank Kristen McDonnell for that. First of all, she stressed the importance of being a good teammate – to be gritty, selfless, and positive – and she always stressed things like defense and boxing out over hitting shots. Everything she values at Braintree High is also valued on my college team, so in that sense, I was able to transition very easily.

What challenges have you faced on the offensive end?

I’ve definitely struggled with confidence on the offensive end. I’ve been working on being more of an offensive threat, and having confidence in taking my shot and attacking the basket. So far this season, I’ve been doing a better job than in past years.

What are the challenges of being a student-athlete?

Time management is definitely a challenge. Striking a balance between sports and school requires planning and good time management skills.

Through eight games, Rachel Norton has averaged 5.3 points per game and is a perfect four-for-four at the charity stripe. (PHOTO CREDIT: Brian Beard/CIPhotography.com)

Through eight games, Rachel Norton has averaged 5.3 points per game and is a perfect four-for-four at the charity stripe. (PHOTO CREDIT: Brian Beard/CIPhotography.com)

What are the benefits/values of playing a sport in college?

I think being part of a team is an invaluable experience, and it has made my time at Bowdoin incredibly enjoyable. I certainly feel that I’ve learned lessons through my sport – the importance of hard work, how to overcome adversity, how to be a good leader – that will serve me later in life.

What advice would you give to a high school player looking for a good fit to play college basketball and get a quality education?

I would definitely encourage them to reach out to coaches and visit as many schools as they can. I’ve really enjoyed my experience as a D3 college athlete and feel like I’m getting a quality education while playing for a strong basketball program.

What are your plans after graduating from Bowdoin?

Great question… I’ll get back to you!

Finally, what kind of senior season do you expect to have?

We’re off to a strong start, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do this year, hopefully in both the NESCAC tournament and NCAA tournament. I’m just trying to focus on one game at a time, and really soak up and enjoy my last season of basketball.

Follow Bob on Twitter @WhitneyBob; like him on Facebook and Instagram.

New England D3 Basketball: 2016-17 Conference Predictions

basketball-predictions

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11

Another NCAA Division III New England basketball season officially tips-off this evening.

Earlier today – I mean, very early this morning – Clark University commenced its campaign with a midnight victory over Worcester State. It was the second time in two years that both schools tipped off after midnight.

In honor of a brand new season, it is time to dish out my Noontime Sports conference predictions – who wins the conference crown, as well as what team(s) will contend for the title.

Commonwealth Coast Conference (MBB)

Conference Champion: Endicott

Contenders: Gordon, Nichols and Wentworth

Dark horse: Western New England

Commonwealth Coast Conference (WBB)

Conference Champion: University of New England

Contenders: Roger Williams, Western New England and Endicott

Dark horse: Salve Regina

Great Northeast Athletic Conference (MBB)

Conference Champion: Albertus Magnus

Contenders: Johnson & Wales, Lasell and Emmanuel

Dark horse: Mount Ida

Great Northeast Athletic Conference (WBB)

Conference Champion: Saint Joseph’s (Maine)

Contenders: Johnson & Wales, Norwich and Emmanuel

Dark horse: Suffolk and Lasell

Little East Conference (MBB)

Conference Champion: Keene State

Contenders: Eastern Conn., UMass Dartmouth and Plymouth State

Dark horse: Southern Maine

Little East Conference (WBB)

Conference Champion: UMass Dartmouth

Contenders: Keene State, Eastern Conn. and Western Conn.

Dark horse: UMass Boston

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MBB)

Conference Champion: Fitchburg State

Contenders: Salem State and Bridgewater State

Dark horse: Worcester State

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (WBB)

Conference Champion: Framingham State

Contenders: Westfield State, Bridgewater State and Worcester State

Dark horse: MCLA

New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (MBB)

Conference Champion: Babson

Contenders: MIT, WPI and Springfield

Dark horse: Emerson

New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (WBB)

Conference Champion: WPI

Contenders: Babson, Springfield and MIT

Dark horse: Coast Guard Academy and Wheaton 

New England Collegiate Conference (MBB)

Conference Champion: So. Vermont

Contenders: Regis, Daniel Webster and Becker

Dark horse: Elms 

New England Collegiate Conference (WBB)

Conference Champion: Regis

Contenders: Elms, Wheelock and Mitchell

Dark horse: Newbury

New England Small College Athletic Conference (MBB)

Conference Champion: Amherst

Contenders: Tufts, Williams, Trinity and Middlebury

Dark Horse: Colby

New England Small College Athletic Conference (WBB)

Conference Champion: Tufts

Contenders: Amherst, Conn. College, Bowdoin

Dark horse: Williams and Colby

North Atlantic Conference (MBB)

Conference Champion: Colby-Sawyer

Contenders: Husson, Thomas and Castleton

Dark horse: Johnson State and Green Mountain

North Atlantic Conference (WBB)

Conference Champion: Husson

Contenders: New England College, Maine Maritime and Castleton

Dark horse: Colby-Sawyer

New England D3 Football: Week 10 Social Media Roundup

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports)

Before we officially turn the page to the 11th week of the NCAA Division III Football season – really, the 11th week of the season? Crazy! – let’s take a look back on this past weekend’s action with some of the best in-game and post-game tweets.

Let’s start with Bates-Bowdoin, always a must-see or must-watch game.

 

 

Let’s switch gears to Tufts-Colby …. the Jumbos scored an enormous win over the Mules and after the game tweeted this post-game video. Anyone know what the team is doing in this video?

 

Staying in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), we now take a look at this quality tweet from Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth, who congratulated the Cardinals for winning the Little Three Crown.

 

Following an exciting win over Norwich, Husson celebrated its second Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) crown in three seasons. The Eagles clinched the conference title with a win over the Cadets, along with a Mount Ida setback.

 

Another champion was crowned on Saturday as Golden Bears of Western New England – our number one team in New England – defeated Salve Regina to claim the New England Football Conference (NEFC) crown.

 

In addition to WNE and Husson, another championship was earned yesterday as Bridgewater State defeated Framingham State on a dramatic overtime PAT. The 28-27 (OT) win provided the Bears with their first Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) regular season crown since 2008.

 

Let’s not sleep on the Bison of Nichols College anymore! The Green and Black scored another exciting win, defeating Maine Maritime. The win secured Nichols its first .500-or-better season since 2007.

 

 

 

 

And finally … drum roll please … Anna Maria celebrated its first win of the season yesterday, defeating Gallaudet! Congrats to AMCAT Nation on an exciting win!

 

 

 

 

Catching Up With Trinity College Senior Safety Spencer Donahue

Trinity College senior Spencer Donahue was tabbed this week's NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week following an impressive performance against Middlebury College last Saturday. (Photo Credit: Trinity College Athletics)

Trinity College senior Spencer Donahue was tabbed this week’s NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week following an impressive performance against Middlebury College last Saturday. (Photo Credit: Trinity College Athletics | David B. Newman)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Last weekend, Trinity College senior Spencer Donahue turned in an impressive defensive performance, tallying six solo stops, including a pair of sacks, three tackles for a loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and two pass break-ups to help the Bantams secure an important New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) win over Middlebury College.

Donahue’s effort last Saturday earned him this week’s NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week honor.

Our defense prepared extremely well for (last weekend’s game) against Middlebury,” said Donahue. “Middlebury had been having success (through the air), so that was definitely a point of emphasis for us during the week, but we couldn’t overlook their running game, too.”

Trinity’s defense limited Middlebury’s air attack to a season-low 126 passing yards, while finishing the game with five interceptions and five sacks.

Earlier this week, we caught up with Donahue to talk about his team’s impressive win against the Panthers, Trinity’s final home game of the season against Amherst College on Saturday, and if he watched the Chicago Cubs break a 108-yard-old curse.

Did you imagine your defense would record five interceptions and five sacks against a talented offense? 

Our coaches prepared a great game plan, so we knew as long as we executed good things would (happen).

You had a big game individually – earned this week’s NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week honors – what worked for you this past week? 

My teammates did an incredible job at executing and making plays when the opportunities arose, so I just tried to follow their lead.

This Saturday marks your final home game as a member of the Bantams’ football program. Care to share a favorite memory/moment of playing in front of the hometown fans? 

Unfortunately, I cannot think of a specific moment (or memory), but the atmosphere here at Trinity on a Saturday is electric. It is something I will really miss once my career is over.

What does your team need to do to be successful this weekend against Amherst? 

We really just need to stay focused. We need to continue to approach each day with the same intensity and energy that we have done throughout season.

A few non-football questions, starting with your major: economics. How did you choose your major and what do you hope to do with it? 

I took an (econ class) my sophomore year and really enjoyed it. Although it was one of the more difficult classes I took here at Trinity, I felt that it taught me more about how the world functioned, as well as how finance and economics impact our society. After graduation, I am hoping to go into commercial real estate.

Being from Illinois, I would presume you’re a Chicago sports fan, so have you been following the Chicago Cubs in the World Series? 

I am actually not a true Chicago sports fan. The Minnesota Vikings are my favorite NFL team, but I do root for the Chicago Cubs. I enjoy going to their games in the summer, but it’s been great for Chicago to have the Cubs back in the World Series and win their first World Series since 1908.

What has been the greatest advice you have received from a football Coach – either past or current?

I would say that the greatest advice any coach has given me is to just have fun and enjoy the game. Football is a tough sport and I have had a lot of ups and downs while playing it, but any time that I get to put my pads on and compete alongside my teammates is truly a blessing. I just try to cherish every moment of it.

Have you always played safety? If not, what other positions have you played? 

I started playing football in third grade – I played running back before transitioning into a receiver and cornerback my freshman year of high school. One year later, I transitioned into a safety and have played the position ever since.

Do you idol your game after a current or past professional football player? 

Yes, I would have to say that my favorite player is Tyrann Mathieu, who is a safety for the Arizona Cardinals. I love the way he plays – I try to do my best to play with the same intensity and fearlessness that he does.

Three favorite movies of all-time? 

Forrest Gump, The Dark Night, and Saving Private Ryan

Finally, your favorite non-football activity? 

Golfing.

Catching Up With Tufts University Halfback Chance Brady

Tufts senior tailback Chance Brady etched his name into the program's record last weekend when he bumped his career touchdown total to 25 scores. (PHOTO CREDIT: Alonso Nichols / Tufts)

Tufts senior tailback Chance Brady etched his name into the program’s record last weekend when he bumped his career touchdown total to 25 scores. (PHOTO CREDIT: Alonso Nichols / Tufts)

By NoontimeSports.com 

This past weekend, Tufts University’s Chance Brady etched his name into the program’s record book, rushing for four touchdowns in his team’s 35-16 win over Williams College.

Brady, who finished the game with 157 yards on 26 carries and four scores, bumped his career touchdown total to 25 touchdowns, erasing the original mark of 24 scores, which was held by Paul Dresens (1985-88) and Dan Morse (1995-98).

In addition to establishing a new rushing touchdown mark, Brady became the most recent Jumbo to rush for four scores in a single-game – the last Tufts player to accomplish the feat was Damon Adams in 1995.

“It is a tremendous accomplishment,” Brady said when asked about rushing for 25 touchdowns.

Brady was tabbed this week’s New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Offensive Player of the Week and currently leads the conference through five games with nine touchdowns and 596 rushing yards.

Following his impressive performance against the Ephs, Noontime Sports caught up with Brady to discuss his rushing success, the team’s outlook against Amherst College – this week’s opponent – and his favorite Boston sports moment of all-time.

When you entered last Saturday’s game, did you know how close you were to breaking the record? 

Yes, I knew I was (close), but I never imagined that I was going to accomplish (it against Williams). It was a season goal for me.

You currently lead the NESCAC in numerous rushing categories, so what’s been the secret to your success this season?

The offensive line has been the reason for everything I’ve accomplished (this season). Without those guys fighting for me on every play, I wouldn’t be enjoying this much success. Football is a team game and those guys are the ultimate competitors.

Last year, you were named the NESCAC Offensive Player of the Year – I know that seems long ago, but what did that particular honor mean to you? 

It meant so much to be recognized (by the conference). I really enjoyed how it brought attention to our program because we fought so hard (last season) to become a top dog in this league.

Your team returns to the gridiron this weekend when you travel to Amherst College. What is the biggest key to success this weekend? 

We have to be the most physical team on the field. It’s looks like it will be another cold and rainy game on Saturday, so we have to bring the mental and physical fortitude that we brought last week.

What’s the biggest goal facing the team over these final few weeks? 

Our biggest goal is to win a NESCAC championship. The only way to accomplish that is to win one game (each week), so the biggest goal is (to focus on) Amherst this week.

With this being your final season with the Jumbos, have you been able to look back or reflect on your time with the program? 

Nostalgia has not kicked in yet because every week is a new work week. I’m sure when the final whistle blows I’ll start looking back on my time with the program.

Tell me about majoring in History – what interested you in this particular major? 

History has always intrigued me because you can see the patterns over time (and how they impacted the next decade or generation). Knowing the history of how something came to be can help you understand how it will develop (going forward).

Three favorite movies?

Good Will Hunting, Forrest Gump and Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Three songs on your iPhone (or iPod) now? 

‘Chiraq’ by Tyga featuring The Game

‘Fake Love’ by Drake

‘Pull The Trigger’ by Russ

What is your favorite non-football activity and why? 

Basketball. I love playing pick-up ball and getting a chance to compete (whenever I play in a pick-up game).

Finally, being from Massachusetts, what is your all-time favorite Boston sports memory? 

When the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl (last February 2015). I remember Tom Brady’s bone chilling speech about honoring your family, Julian Edelman catching the (go-ahead)/game-winning touchdown and Malcolm Butler’s game-saving interception.

Catching Up With Middlebury College Quarterback Jared Lebowitz

Middlebury College quarterback Jared Lebowitz has tossed five touchdowns in back-to-back contests this season. (Photo Credit: Middlebury College Athletics)

Middlebury College quarterback Jared Lebowitz has tossed five touchdowns in back-to-back contests this season. (Photo Credit: Middlebury College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Middlebury College junior quarterback Jared Lebowitz has enjoyed an impressive start under center this season, tossing five touchdowns in back-to-back games.

In addition to a pair of five touchdown performances, Lebowitz has been tabbed the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Offensive Player of the Week twice.

On Wednesday, he earned the prestigious Golden Helmet Award following his five-touchdown performance in a 35-14 victory last weekend against Colby College.

Earlier this week, Noontime Sports caught up with the Panthers’ signal-caller to chat some football, Harry Potter and his favorite movies of all-time.

For the second-straight week you tossed five touchdowns passes. Have you ever tossed five TDs in back-to-back games before?

I try not to focus on statistics, but rather what I can do to help the team win. If that means I have to throw five touchdowns, so be it. If it means handing it off 50 times and we win, then I’m fine with that as well.

How have you been able to be so successful under center this season?

All the credit goes to the guys around me, as well as the coaches, too. I am only as good as the routes the receivers run, and we’re all only as good as the offensive line affords us to be. And as you can see, our o-line has been playing very well thus far.

It sounds cliché, but how has Coach Ritter or Coach Caputi helped you progress from last season to this season?

Coach Ritter is obviously our head coach, but he is also our offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He has been extremely patient with me while I’ve learned the offense. I think he has realized I only play well when I know the offense as well as possible, so he has made an emphasis to work with me whether that means extra film, drilling me (on plays), or just talking and making sure that we (coaches and the offense) are on the same page.

Thinking back to preseason practices, what was the biggest goal the team hoped to accomplish this season?

Our goal is to go 1-0 every week. This preseason had a much different tone than last year, however. Last year, we had all the hype and perhaps that made us a bit overconfident and complacent. This year’s team is gritty and has an air of desperation in the sense that we will do whatever it takes to go 1-0.

Have you always played quarterback? If so, when did you start and did you idol your game after a particular professional or college quarterback growing-up?

I have played quarterback since I was in fourth grade (except sixth grade when I played tight end). It’s been nice growing up a New England Patriots fan and although my play style may not be like Tommy Touchdown (Tom Brady), his poise, confidence, leadership, preparation, and grittiness are something any quarterback can aspire to posses.

What do you enjoy most about being quarterback?

I enjoy the challenge of responsibility. Obviously quarterback is a highly visible position and we get far too much credit when the team plays well, but that’s not why I play the game. I play for the guys lining up with me … the guys that are putting their bodies on the line so our team can go 1-0 (every week). I’m just 1/11th of the offense and each piece needs to work for the machine to operate. It’s an indescribable feeling, being successful because all 11 guys on the field did their job. Succeeding as a team, in any context, is one of the greatest things there is.

What is your major and why did you choose it?

I carried over my old major from UNLV, which is political science. I find it very relevant and interesting. Perhaps some local politics are in my future; I can think of few professions more noble than serving Vermonters and our communities.

What is your favorite non-football activity?

To me, family (dogs included) is the most important thing in the world. I love hanging out with them, doing whatever, including board games, hikes, movies. I think I annoy my sister and mom sometimes when I’m bugging them to play board games, but chess and catan are my games.

What was the last book you read for pleasure?

I read a couple books this summer. One was the new Harry Potter, which I have a few qualms with that I feel I have to get off my chest.

First, I am not a huge fan of the play format. It took all of the emotional richness out of this made up world. Instead of describing feelings of the characters, it would say something like, ‘Harry is upset by this.’ Don’t tell me he’s excited; describe it! Also, the plot (spoiler alert) heavily involves the use of Time Turners, which allow the characters to travel through time. So the plot literally consists of Harry’s son and Malfoy’s son (who are best friends) traveling back in time to change and destroy the world of Magic that J.K. Rowling spent 7 books cultivating and creating via Butterfly Effects. It was like the authors were trying to destroy my childhood before my very eyes, which made me irrationally upset. Don’t change the best selling and most creative world that we all know and love ever put in print! I also read The Things They Carried, which really resonated with me, as I have studied the Vietnam War in numerous political science classes but to see it from the raw, terrible, view of the soldier made it more real and far worse. I also read All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot, which is a must-read. I aspire to see the world as romantically as he does.

What is your favorite movie of all-time?

My top three are Remember the Titans, Warrior, and Inglorious Bastards. I’ve probably seen each one two dozen times and can recite (much to the annoyance of my viewing companions) nearly 100% of the dialogue of each. It’s a Sophie’s choice as to which is my actual favorite.

Lastly, what is a game day like at Middlebury?  

It’s the most unique atmosphere I’ve ever encountered. First off, our field is extremely gorgeous. It’s a very casual environment – no tickets necessary, kids and dogs in the stands and on the field after the game, golfers teeing off a few dozen yards away from the south end zone. It’s how football is meant to be played …Middlebury is how football is supposed to be.

Noontime Sports The Podcast: Episode Seven (James Bakers | @ITHuddLLe)

Noontime Sports Podcast

By NoontimeSports.com 

Noontime Sports the Podcast returned this week as James Baker from @ITHuddLLE joined Matt Noonan to chat about the opening month of NCAA Division III Football, specifically the New England region.

Baker gave his ‘two-cents’ on Western New England, Husson and multiple New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) schools, while he and Noonan also shared their excitement for Plymouth State, which is off to its best start since 2007.