The Springfield College women’s basketball team has improved its play on the floor this season. After a 4-20 season last year, the team is currently sitting at 11-9. A lot of the success and part of the turnaround has been the play of the team’s freshman and sophomore. Of the 15 players on the roster, 11 are first or second year players. One of the freshmen that has stepped in and played a major role in the team’s success has been Ava Adamopolous. The 6’ 2” freshman from Ludlow Mass. came off the bench to score a team high 19 points, shooting 8-10 from the field while playing 25 minutes in last Saturday’s NEWMAC Conference win over Emerson. Despite not starting a game all year, Adamopolous has come off the bench in all 20 contests this year, leading the team in scoring three times and in rebounds on two other occasions. For the season, Adamopolous is averaging 6.7 points per game.
Q: What has been your key to coming off the bench and being a big contributor for the team this season?
A: I think that I have been able to help the team by coming off the bench and being a presence inside. By coming off the bench, I have been able to watch the pace of the game, see how the officials are calling the game, and see how the other team likes to play.
Q: What do you attribute the team’s success, given how young you are as a team?
A: Our team definitely has good leadership from the older girls, but I think that another big part to our success is that everyone brings something different to the floor. Our freshman and sophomores bring both leadership and talent to the team, just like the juniors and seniors; we just haven’t been around the league as long as they have.
Q: How have you yourself adjusted to playing at the collegiate level?
A: Basketball in college is definitely more physical and faster paced than it was in high school. I think it took me a little while to adjust my play to the collegiate game because I didn’t think teams would be as physical as they are. I think once I got used to the contact and the pace, I started to play better and now I feel more comfortable being on the floor.
Q: As a center, do you consider yourself more of a scorer or re-bounder? Both?
A: I think I see myself as a presence inside more than just a scorer or a re-bounder. Coach always tells me that I don’t always have to score to affect the game. I think that in order to be an inside presence, you have to be able to do everything down low, on both offense and defense.
It was a good week for Springfield College wrestling. Despite losing to visiting TCNJ 24-18 on Sunday, the team was still able to find positives on the weekend. Following up a week the Pride went 2-1 in a Bridgewater, Mass. tournament, Springfield rolled in Saturday defeating Wesleyen 29-12 in a dual meet. Among other standouts, junior Dylan Foley won his match 6-0 at 165. This was Foley’s first match since he jumped into the NCAA Division III top 10 rankings. Earlier in the week, Foley was also named the D3Wrestle.com National Wrestler of the Week and New England Wrestler Association (NEWA) co-wrestler of the week. The honors come on the heels of a week in which Foley went 4-0 for the Pride at 165. Some of his victories came against top ranked wrestlers in the conference, as well as the second-ranked wrestler in the nation.
Q: How do you prepare yourself for going up against some of the conferences top wrestlers?
A: I prepare myself the same way for every single match, regardless of my opponent. Unlike high school wrestling, at the college level everyone is good and I have to be mentally and physically ready to go every single time I step on to the mat. Obviously knowing that I am going to wrestle a top opponent is a bit different, but I try to treat every match the same. If I know my opponent ahead of time, the coaches and myself will sit down and watch some tape or strategize ways I can expose my opponents, but primarily I try to focus on what I do well and how I am going to wrestle them, not the other way around. Usually a couple days out my focus hones in entirely on executing every phase of wrestling the right way, whether it’s my technique, my weight cutting, diet, getting enough sleep etc. but I try to stay within myself and do a lot of visualization exercises and mentally prepare right before the match. By the time the match comes, the physical work has been done and it’s just going out and executing.
Q: How difficult is it to cut weight for a tournament?
A: Weight cutting is a part of the sport. This aspect of wrestling is also different for every person. Personally, my weight has not been much of an issue this year. I moved up in weight from my freshman and sophomore seasons where I wrestled 149lbs to this year where I am competing at 165lbs and it has made a huge difference in my performance. This summer I was 190lbs and slowly throughout the fall I was able to get myself comfortably down to a walking weight of about 170lbs, from there it’s not too difficult between practices and extra workouts. The coaching staff and I set the goal to be on-weight the night before a competition that way I could feel my best the next morning not having to suck the last few pounds of water weight out the morning of. For me, weight management has come down to a science of proper and strict diet and making sure to get each of my extra workouts in during the week leading up to competition. At this point in the season my body has settled into the weight nicely and I don’t really have to worry myself about it, making it much easier to improve on being a better wrestler. For some, the descent down to weight can be a bit more challenging and getting the last few pounds off more difficult, but every guy in the room is in the same boat and helps motivate each other and push each other to keep going and get down to our competition weights. With the support and encouragement from coaches and teammates, everyone manages to get the job done. In all honesty, most of us have been wrestling for most of our lives so that aspect of the sport is just that, part of the sport. Were used to what we have to do to get down.
Q: What are the team’s expectations for the remainder of the season?
A: We had a team meeting before the season started and each person wrote out our personal and team goals for the year. We’ve stuck to them pretty well. It’s a long season and were constantly improving so our long term goals remain unchanged. As a program we expect to win the Northeast Regional team title, we expect to advance anywhere from 7-10 (out of a potential 10) wrestlers to the national tournament and we expect to place as a top 5 team in the country at nationals. The last two seasons we have increased both our amount of national qualifiers and All-Americans, and we see no reason to not continue that trend. Academically, we would also like to be a top 10 team in the country.
Q: What was your reaction to being named the D3.com National wrestler of the week as well as NEWA co-wrestler of the week?
A: It was a nice recognition to receive. More so than being acknowledged, it’s great to see all the hard work I’ve put in the room with the coaches starting to pay off in competitions. We know the ability is there, it was just having the right opportunity to break through. It’s feels great to be acknowledged and having increased support from my peers and people around campus, absolutely. But at the same time I recognize that the road is not over with that accomplishment. There are six weeks left in the season to continue to improve and at the end of the day no one will remember who the National Wrestler of the Week was, but they remember who won the 165lb National Champion was that year.