Freshmen athletes reflect on the impacts of the class of 2020 Seniors taught the importance of determination, perseverance and creating a positive environment

Kristen Dansereau, Sports Manager

Athletic seasons at Roger Williams University are recognized for the camaraderie and sportsmanship of all varsity athletes. The spring 2020 season will now be remembered for no games being played at all.

Freshmen on various sports teams during the 2019-2020 school year have reflected on their time with the seniors that was cut short. 

Even though the season ended early, Emma MacLean, a freshman on the RWU softball team from Newton, Massachusetts, was able to build strong relationships and learn from her two softball seniors, Taylor and Tara Chatowsky.

“They showed me how to work hard and put in that extra work outside of practice, whether it be by going into the gym and getting more work in or going to office hours or study sessions to keep up with my work and get ahead of the game,” MacLean said. 

Many teams spend time together outside of their sports, during meals, studying, or social gatherings. Elliot Nelson, a freshman on the men’s basketball team, was able to spend time with the three seniors, Bryan Donovan, Rich Pugliese and Ian Carmichael, outside of basketball.

“The relationship between the freshmen and seniors was really strong. A lot of us hung out with the seniors a lot at their house in Portsmouth and in their dorm at [North Campus Residence Hall],” Nelson said. “We almost always ate meals together whether it was down at lower, up at Commons or over at Baypoint for lunch.”

Jojo Ortiz, a freshman on the RWU baseball team from Providence, Rhode Island, also discussed the strong and respected nature of the freshmen and senior relationship on his team.

“The relationship between seniors and freshmen was great,” Ortiz said. “Seniors pushed us freshmen to be great no matter if the criticism was hard or not. We as freshmen respected them because we knew they wanted nothing but the best for us.” 

The RWU Athletics program and its athletes all try to make the freshmen feel as welcomed and comfortable as possible when they are considering joining the Hawk family.  

Joshua Dion, a freshman on the RWU men’s soccer team from Pembroke, New Hampshire, found his decision was directly influenced by the current seniors during his recruitment.

“I remember when I visited Roger Williams for an overnight, and I remember every single one of the current seniors approaching me and having a full conversation,” Dion said. “It’s actually part of the reason I came to Roger. Other teams were not as receptive or kind.”

Sophie Araneo, a freshman on the women’s basketball team from Branford, Connecticut, had a similar view of her seniors’ impact on recruitment. 

“Before I had committed, one of the most important aspects I was looking for was team chemistry,” Araneo said. “The moment I met the [rising seniors] and the rest of the team, I could tell that there was a very strong bond between the girls and the coaching staff.”

The captains of each team were respected leaders and their roles extended past the courts and fields. Many life lessons are learned from those who come before you. It is a leader’s job to uplift and bring out the best in their teammates and at RWU, players do not shy away from that.

Alana Bergin, a freshman on the women’s lacrosse team from Newbury, Massachusetts, spoke on the encouragement she received from her five seniors.

“The girls were always looking to help you,” Bergin said. “They were the first ones to offer advice but also the first ones to cheer you on when you did something good.”

On a personal note

As a freshman athlete myself on the RWU women’s volleyball team, I want to thank my five seniors for a season and entire school year packed full of memories I will always cherish. You have helped me work hard and laugh harder on and off the court. 

Thank you for being powerful role models of hard work, determination and support that my fellow freshmen and I could rely on. We speak volumes of you girls and what we have seen each of you accomplish in only the short time we have known you. I look forward to seeing where you decide to go from here and know that we will always be your family to support you, even from afar.

Family is a great word to describe our varsity sports program and I know that my fellow freshmen would agree that this amazing group of seniors and all the positive impacts they have made will be cherished always. You have made our freshman year amazing regardless of the circumstances it ended on.

As for the seniors coming back for next year’s season, we will be spoiled to get to look up to you and play by your side for yet another year. Congratulations to the class of 2020 and all of its senior athletes. We thank you and wish you the best.