Tag Archives: Wheaton College

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

Catching Up With Sara Binkhorst (Wheaton Women’s Basketball)

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Sara Binkhorst was named the new Wheaton College women’s basketball coach last month. (PHOTO COURTESY: Brown University Athletics) 

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Sara Binkhorst is excited about her new job – she was recently named the new head coach of the Wheaton College women’s basketball program last month.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” said Binkhorst when asked about becoming the eighth head coach in program history.

“From the moment I stepped onto campus (as a candidate for the women’s basketball head coaching role) I was welcomed by the Wheaton community and the supportive (athletic) department, so I really am looking forward to all the things to come.”

Binkhorst arrives in Norton, Massachusetts after a successful four-year stint as an assistant coach with the Brown University women’s basketball program where she helped the Bears capture a pair of Ocean State Tip-Off Tournaments in 2017 and 2018 while assisting the squad to a spot in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament in 2017.

With Binkhorst, the Bears finished above.500 three times, including this past winter, while also competing in the 2017 Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) where they defeated the University of Maryland Baltimore County (81-75) in the opening round before falling to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (87-84).

Binkhorst speaks fondly of her time at Brown, including what she learned from head coach Sarah Behn, who welcomed her to the coaching staff a few months after she graduated Bowdoin College.

Said Binkhors, “I will always be grateful for Sarah Behn for taking a chance on me (as a recent college graduate) and developing me (into the coach I have become). Brown was an unbelievable experience and it definitely helped me prepare (myself) for what I am excited to do at Wheaton.”

Being able to coach the Lyons will certainly bring back some fond memories of competing for the Polar Bears from 2011-2015 for Binkhorst, who flourished under the direction of current Bowdoin head coach Adrienne Shibles. As a member of the Bowdoin women’s basketball program, Binkhorst earned a pair of New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) first-team honors while also being named the New England Women’s Basketball Association (NEWBA) Player of the Year in 2015.

In 2015, Binkhorst guided the Polar Bears to the NCAA quarterfinals – she averaged 14.4 points and 3.1 assists per game that season – and also became the 14th player in program history to net 1,000 points in her final regular-season contest against Tufts University.

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“Brown was an unbelievable experience,” Binkhorst said when discussing her past four seasons as an assistant with the Bears women’s basketball team. (Photo Courtesy: Brown University Athletics)

Noontime Sports recently spoke with Binkhorst to discuss her excitement for coaching Division III basketball, as well as what she will be doing over the next few months to prepare the Lyons for a successful 2019-20 campaign.

On becoming a D-III coach: “I am a true believer in a Division III experience. I played at Bowdoin and had an unbelievable experience playing for one of the greatest coaches, Adrienne Shibles, so I am a firm believer in what Division III promotes between the balance of athletics and academics. I love Division III and wanted to get into coaching after I graduated from Bowdoin (in 2015), and was extremely fortunate that I landed at Brown. I learned so much from that experience, including how to recruit high-academic student-athletes, which is similar to the type of students I competed with at Bowdoin.

I (always) knew I wanted to become a head coach (after I graduated Bowdoin), and I wanted to return to the Division III world, (so landing at Wheaton is a dream come true).  It is an unbelievable school that competes in a really competitive Division III conferences – I think (the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference) is one of the best in New England. Additionally, knowing the possibility of how to recruit regionally and nationally to a school like Wheaton is very exciting.

On competing in the NEWMAC: So, we competed against a few schools in the NEWMAC when I was playing for Bowdoin, but I have a great deal of respect for the conference and coaches. I feel really humbled and honored to be taking over a program to compete in the NEWMAC against some unbelievable coaches that have great traditions of success. I think the Wheaton program will continue to work hard to establish itself as one of the premier programs in the NEWMAC and we’ll obviously begin (this process) once we convene on campus this fall.

I am really looking forward to our first day of practice, being in the gym with our team and start competing, so we can (reach our goal) of becoming a championship program.

On preparations for the upcoming season: First and foremost, (the most important goal) is getting to know the women on our team. I have been able to have some great conversations with all the women on our team – I look forward to continuing (our dialogues) this summer, too – but I am really looking forward to getting to know our players and build relationships with them.

When everyone is on campus, I look forward to getting together and discussing the culture that we’re going to build collectively.


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

D3 Lacrosse Notebook: Deely, Avakian Establish New Milestones

NS D3 Lax Thursday

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports & @NoontimeLax 

Wednesday was a special evening for two Massachusetts Maritime Academy lacrosse players, including sophomore Anna Deely, who became the Buccaneers’ all-time leader in draw controls.

Deely, who has recorded 177 draw control wins in 28 contests, concluded last night’s 14-7 setback to Bridgewater State with seven draws, two ground balls and one caused turnover.

“It felt good to break the record,” said Deely, when asked about becoming the program’s all-time leader in draw controls earlier today.

Establishing a new mark for draw controls is certainly an impressive feat for the second-year player that never attempted to win draws when she competed for Barnstable High School.

“I never really took the draws until I came to Massachusetts Maritime,” she said, “(but) I think I have a better understanding of the game since playing midfield.”

Listed as an attacker and defensive winger, Deely has been spotted at various ends of the field this spring, helping the Buccaneers to a 7-6 overall mark with three games remaining. Deely has certainly been a player to watch on the Buccaneers through 13 contests – she currently ranks second on the team in points (37), but first in caused turnovers (27).

From a quick glance at the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) statistical leaders, Deely ranks first among all student-athletes in draw controls.

Her impressive play, both this season and last spring, is a testament to her teammates, says Deely, who credits every member of the Buccaneers for her “improvements.”

Said Deely, “It’s a hardworking team and we all put in so much effort, (so) it’s rewarding when you get to see records being broken.”

As for coach Marc Palombo, a Massachusetts Maritime Academy alum and former lacrosse player, he seemed very happy for Deely with establishing a new program record that should certainly grow over the next two years.

Said Palombo, “Anna has been a great addition to our program. What she has accomplished in two years on and off the field makes us very optimistic of what is to come in her junior and senior seasons. She is a great teammate, a tough player and someone who always wants the ball.

“Becoming the program’s all-time leader in draw controls is a wonderful achievement and I know that she will continue to break and set records as a Buccaneer.”

In addition to celebrating Deely’s impressive milestone last night, the Massachusetts Maritime men’s lacrosse team honored Benjamin Avakian for recording his 100th point last night in a 17-2 win over Albertus Magnus.

Avakian concluded the game with six points on four goals and two assists with his first marker being his 100th career point with the Buccaneers.

Similar to Deely, Avakian has been a player to watch this spring on the Buccaneers – he has tallied a career-high 48 points on 40 goals (also a career-high) and eight assists.


News and Links from New England D3 Lacrosse


Stay connected with our Noontime Sports New England lacrosse coverage by following @NoontimeLax on Twitter! 

Catching Up With MIT’s Ravenne Nasser

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Ravenne Nasser became the first pitcher in MIT softball history to record back-to-back shutouts in the same day against the same team last weekend. (PHOTO CREDIT: David Silverman)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

It’s been an exciting few days for Ravenne Nasser. 

The Methuen, Massachusetts native, who is a senior on the MIT softball team, recently became the first-ever Engineers to record back-to-back no hitters in the same day when she led the Engineers to a pair of wins this past Saturday against Clark University.

Nasser retired 17 batters in a span of 14 innings against the Cougars to bump her overall record to 8-3 in the circle.

Her impressive effort against Clark, as well as earlier in the week against Emerson College and Wheaton College resulted in her being named the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Pitcher of the Week, along with the Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division III National Pitcher of the Week, too.

The news of Nasser being tabbed the NFCA Division III Pitcher of the Week was announced this morning – she is the first MIT softball player to earn this special honor.

Noontime Sports recently caught-up with Nasser to discuss her historical outing from this past weekend, as well as what she and the team must do over the next few weeks to gain some momentum heading into the NEWMAC Tournament.

What does it mean to you to become the first member of the MIT softball program to record back-to-back no-hitters against the same team on the day?

It’s really an honor. There have been so many great pitchers and players to come through this program and to be even close to being among them is truly just something I never expected. I know I could never be in this position without all the people who have come before me, my teammates, and everyone who has supported me so this is really just a representation of all their work.

What was your mindset heading into this past Saturday’s doubleheader with Clark University?

I was just trying to come out strong for the rest of the team. I had a rough outing the day before and my team really picked me up so I just wanted to have their back and make their jobs a little easier on Saturday.

Did you think about each no-hitter as both games progressed? Did anyone mention it to you in the dugout?

I did think about it a bit in the first game but I was more focused on keeping people off the bases than how they had gotten on and then in the second game it didn’t even cross my mind. Also, no one mentioned it to me in either game so that definitely helped to keep it out of my mind.

It may sound cliche, but how hard is it to toss a no-hitter? What does a pitcher have to do to stay locked-in from one inning to the next?

It’s not easy. You have to stay focused on each pitch and move on from ones that didn’t go as well as you wanted them to. I’m lucky in that I have an awesome defense behind me that makes my job a lot easier and gives me a lot of confidence while I’m throwing.

When you finished game two with a second-straight no-hitter, what was the immediate reaction from your coach/teammates?

Honestly, not everyone realized it was two, myself included, but once we did they were all really excited for me. This team is full of amazing people who always support each other and celebrate each other’s successes so they were all really happy for me.

Your team has some important conference games looming in the distance, so what is the mindset/focus from both you and your teammates heading into this week’s games against Springfield College and Wellesley College?

We’re ready to go get them. We know they’re going to be tough games and that we have to come out strong to come away with (much needed) wins, but we’re really excited to play some really good competition.

From your perspective, what has been your team’s best outing of the season and how can you duplicate that performance over the next few weeks so you will have some momentum heading into the NEWMAC Tournament?

I would say the games against Coast Guard Academy were our best overall. We played them at the end of a long stretch of games and everyone adjusted well to everything they tried to do. Our defense, pitching and hitting over the two games were very solid and everyone on the team stepped up and contributed, both on the field and off. I think if we stick to playing our game and doing the small things right we will be able to execute and be successful for the rest of the regular season and into the postseason.


Stay connected with Noontime Sports by following us on Instagram: @NoontimeSports 

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.

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