Column: Something worth waiting for

Column: Something worth waiting for

There are two words in the English language that, when combined, form the ugliest concept known to mankind:

Summer school.

Of course, living in Boston during the summer has its benefits – maintaining the college lifestyle an extra two months of the year – but some aspects are missing.

I’m talking about college sports, which bring unity and passion to the student body from September to May. The absence of sports deprives us of a nice air-conditioned facility to gather and cheer in, and it’s making the sweltering heat and humidity even more overwhelming.

Husky fans are in the unfortunate position of having little glory from the past season to feel good about. What is there to smile about? For starters, the field hockey team has proved they belong in the bigger and tougher Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), finishing second in the conference. However, the story of their 2006 season leaves a bitter aftertaste, as the team was beat out of a spot in the NCAA tournament by CAA rival Old Dominion.

The men’s hockey team and football team, which arguably garner the most attention, continue to be uninspiring in their play. I feel confident in saying the last thing most Husky fans think about before bed are the records of these two teams’ last season (hockey at 3-24-7, football at 2-9). What is needed is enthusiasm for the Huntington Huskies, a look upward to next season’s advancement to a respectable, and most importantly, victorious athletic department. The following is a Top 5 of what to look forward to next year.

5. Coach Laura Schuler’s recruitment class.

Ask most people if they’ve ever gone to a women’s ice hockey game and you most likely won’t hear anything at all.

All of that should soon change. The incoming puppies are going to have quite the bite.

Schuler’s bunch is making lots of noise at the USA Hockey Select Player Development Camps in Lake Placid, N.Y. with incoming freshman defender Katy Applin heating up the ice, leading all defenders in points scored for the weekend. There are four incoming Huskies participating in the camp, which ran July 24-30, and tested the future Huskies against some of the best players in the nation. They performed beautifully.

The juiciest part of Schuler’s class is it’s not yet complete, as she will announce the remaining members later this month.

That should make for an impressive litter.

4. The second season of Men’s Hockey coach Greg Cronin.

Any spirits that were soaring after Northeastern’s hard-fought 1-1 tie against Boston College must have been traumatized by the end of the season, one of the worst in recent Husky hockey history. A symbol of last year’s team was first-year coach Greg Cronin, who came to Northeastern with a degree in hockey from the professional and collegiate ranks. Now after the disappointment of his inaugural campaign, Cronin’s camp should be ready to take on the challenges of Hockey East. There’s nowhere to go but up for this program, which could turn out to be the most popular sport on campus if it becomes successful. The enthusiasm within Matthew’s arena for some games last season showed that this campus wants to embrace the team as their own. Results are needed.

3. The return of the most reliable team on campus.

Coach Cheryl Murtagh’s Field hockey team should start giving classroom lessons.

“How to be a contender 101.”

The team has been inspiring, and more importantly, consistent the past few seasons. A testament to the greatness of this program can be seen when they entered the CAA and did what very few thought possible.

They trampled their opponents.

Murtagh’s team posted a remarkable 6-2 conference record and earned the No. 2 seed in the CAA tourney, eventually losing to No. 1 Old Dominion in the finals. A year earlier, she lead her squad to within one win of the NCAA Final Four, only to be defeated by eventual National Champions, Wake Forest.

Expect senior forward and captain, Whitney Shean, to lead the way. The third team Division I All-American and first team All-CAA player should be ready to take on the CAA. The same goes for fellow captain and senior forward Ashley Webber. The two should run circles around opposing defenses while leading the team to another superb season.

2. New coaches.

They coach two different teams, come from two different backgrounds, and have two different basketball pedigrees. But the new men’s and women’s basketball coaches do share one outstanding quality: Their potential is sky-high.

Daynia La-Force Mann, who replaced Willette White as coach of the women’s squad, is a go-getter who has rapidly risen in the ranks of college ball. She comes to Huntington Avenue after a stellar season at the University of New Haven, earning coach of the year honors for leading New Haven to a conference championship. Then there’s Bill Coen of the men’s team, a former assistant at Boston College. He brings a recruiting ability heralded by Dick Vitale.

These two young coaches could bring a whole new brand of Husky basketball to Matthew’s arena, and after the departure of Jose Juan Barea and Shawn James, the spotlight will be on Coen to see if he can overcome an obvious gap in leadership.

1. Football opener: Sept. 1, 2006.

Northeastern vs. Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. It could be the greatest win in Husky football history, but will most likely make Husky fans remember that the Atlantic-10 is far from the big leagues. Regardless of the outcome, this is the most exciting time to be a Husky fan since the ’80s, when Reggie Lewis and company became national icons.

Expect more from second-year quarterbacks Anthony Orio and John Sperrazza, who split time at the position last year and flashed signs of promise. The team is young, but should be exciting, especially the defense where all eyes will be on incoming freshman defensive tackle John Pfund, who should be a star on Huntington Avenue for years to come. Last year the team collapsed when the game was on the line, and this year should be drastically different. Remember, coach Rocky Hager won two D-IAA championships while at North Dakota – there’s nothing saying he won’t be successful in Boston.

Maybe the promising future will take our minds off the heat and put a smile on our faces.

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