Man…It Really Is Over

By Barak Swarttz // March 22, 2018 //

Just like that. Four years. Four LONG years of college basketball. I do not even know where to begin to compress the past four years into a few paragraphs.

The most recent memory I have is my senior day from this past season. A lot of people came to the game, for both teams. It was a high-energy game, which made it that much better for me because I feed off of energy and always have since I picked up a basketball. Dead basketball gyms are the worst environments to play in. Period.

The gym was loud, the fans were involved and the game was chippy. It’s funny actually…my entire life I have never gotten a technical foul. Ever. Not in travel leagues, camps, clinics, when I played in Israel, AAU, high school or college. Never. I always wondered if I was ever going to get one and my last college basketball game would have been an ironic time to.

During the first half, I forced the player I was guarding to travel and the crowd started going nuts. I proceeded to look at him and scream in his face because I was amped up – that’s just how I am; a very, very emotional player.

Right after, the referee sprinted up to me, got close to my face and said, “Don’t do that again, none of that. That’s where things get messy.”

I walked away with a huge grin on my face and thought to myself, “Man…that would have been the perfect time,” but I did want to preserve my clean record at the same time. After that, I was convinced that I was going to go the rest of my life without ever receiving a technical foul…but two weeks later, guess what?

In just my second men’s league game, I got T’d up for saying, “Man I think that was a terrible call,” under my breath; what a warm welcome to the league. Life is funny, man.

Continue reading “Man…It Really Is Over”

Former Student-Athlete Comes to Curry and Drops His Pride

BY COLE McNANNA // Oct. 3, 2017 //

One former division-three standout turned accredited public speaker came to the Katz Gymnasium to address student-athletes pursuing the dreams he once had.

Aaron Cooksey grew up not far from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and soon grew fond of sports of all kinds.

By the time he got to high school he played football, basketball, and baseball; excelling at all three. His play caught the attention of colleges from all over the nation and from each level of competition.

Cooksey hs
A clipping from the Canton Newspaper

In his first three years at Hoover High School, Cooksey was never found at a party due to the strict guilty-by-association rules in the athletic department. He took it upon himself as a leader in both the athletic and academic arenas to set the example that you don’t need to party.

His senior year the rules were relaxed a bit but it still took until the wintertime for his teammates to coerce him to join in on the festivities that night. Go figure, the party got busted and police found him after the evacuation subsided.

Despite not even having a drink, he tried going right to his principal Monday morning to share his side of the story. He only expressed how disappointed he was in a role-model like Cooksey making such a decision.

From then on, his sights were straightened and he came to the decision that he wanted to be a two-sport athlete at the next level. One of the offers he had on the table was to nearby Mount Union College and he packed his bags for the 30-minute trek.

However, at the end of one of the last spring practices, Cooksey went out for a route and felt a pop in his knee. He said it was the worst pain he had ever experienced, for about 30 seconds. After he limped off, his knee didn’t swell the way a torn ACL would so he was under the assumption it was only cartilage damage.

That turned out not to be the case, and the torn ACL kept him out of the football season while putting the baseball season in doubt. In that initial defeat of the prognosis, Cooksey turned to his first alcoholic beverage.

While still being prescribed pain-killers from post-surgery, the addition of alcohol (and a lot of it) did not make for a positive concoction. He had his first taste, and he was hooked.

Cooksey pushed on, however, and beat the 6-month recovery target and made it to the diamond for the first practices.

Although that return would not be long-lived as he went to run out a bunt during a drill and re-tore the same ACL trying to take second base.

The second injury to the same knee within a year of each other devastated Cooksey and pushed him to the brink of his addiction. His grades slipped as they no longer determined his eligibility and he noted he spent more time in bars and at other colleges than he did on his own campus.

He rarely thought about the consequences of his driving under the influence and eventually built a tolerance and comfortability with it. However, it wasn’t after much longer that that all changed.

Cooksey met a friend early on in his time at Mount Union, sparking a conversation with Andrea Calderone while still stumbling around on crutches fresh off his first ACL tear. Over their time together, the pair became like family studying eating and hanging out together.

Fast forward to a 21-year old Cooksey and a 20-year old Calderone driving along after lunch. Cooksey had a couple beers but still got behind the wheel, initially making a few wrong turns leading to a small detour from their original destination.

Cooksey turned left onto a road and fell in behind another car going around the 35-MPH speed limit. Cooksey didn’t have much recollection of the conversation that eventually led him to take his eyes off the road to laugh at a joke.

While closing in on the lead car traveling closer to 65 miles per hour Cooksey was soon directly behind them, needing to make a decision. Fearing a child in the backseat, he swerved to the right, off the road, causing his car to flip three times before wrapping around a telephone pole.

Cooksey could remember the distinct noise of shattered glass falling and making contact with other glass or metal all around him. He thought he had been dreaming but soon came to and realized he had to find Andrea.

Cooksey car
Cooksey’s car as a result of the crash // Photo from Dropyourpride.org

 

Cooksey owned up automatically, knowing the police were going to find alcohol and drugs in his system. He eventually blew a 0.16 BAC and soon had to face Calderone’s family in court.

Cooksey described the agony he could see in Mr. Calderone’s face that he still can envision in his head. After all was said and done, Cooksey was to serve four years in jail and lose his license for the rest of his life.

His dream of playing sports until he could become an elementary school teacher was gone as was his best friend from college.

Cooksey eventually left prison and went back to school to finish his degree, something no one can ever take away from him now. He also travels around the country to speak with different athletic programs, relaying his message to the same group he once made up.

The first coach to give him that platform was one who recruited him out of high school when he was at the helm of the Youngstown State football program. Then-Ohio State University Head Coach Jim Tressel reached back out and hooked Cooksey on something more positive.

Since then, he’s been to schools at each division within the NCAA spanning 11 years.

Curry College Athletic Director, Vinnie Eruzione, felt the need to have Cooksey come to Milton to speak to the Colonels. Coaches and players from every team were invited and Eruzione thinks they were quite responsive.

According to his count, approximately 400 student-athletes showed up to what they thought was going to be just another speech.

“What sets him apart, just like last year’s speaker Hudson Taylor, is that they are real-life experiences,” Eruzione noted. “It’s not someone telling you not to do something because they read it wasn’t good. He delivered a message that affects a lot of others, not just you.”

One senior captain of the basketball team, Barak Swarttz, mentioned that it was very important that student-athletes heard his message together.

“Being in the gym with the entire athletic body of the Curry Community was powerful,” Swarttz noted. “We are all leaders across campus and it was important for all of us to be in the room together to hear that story from someone who was once in all of our shoes.”

Junior Sophia Marchant of the softball team echoed Swarttz comments adding there was plenty of common ground.

“It was definitely easier to relate to; him just speaking to athletes since he was an athlete,” Marchant said. “He wasn’t standing behind the podium; he was up close to us and talked to us instead of at us.”

That response was exactly what Cooksey was looking for, and really what he was expecting coming in.

“I love coming up to the New England area, I love Boston, and I have friends up here,” Cooksey said after his speech. “When I’m in Massachusetts then you know what you’re going to get out of students wherever they’re at, there’s a certain level of respect so it’s always good to come into Massachusetts.”

The Colonels respected Cooksey and he gave it right back, sending the message that is still resonating with student-athletes not to get behind the wheel under the influence.

Swarttz, who is also a Resident Assistant on campus, has always been vigilant of friends and very against drunk driving.

“Being someone that is so against drinking and driving, hearing his story just made me want to always be on the lookout for others,” Swarttz explained. “I know there are people my age, younger and older that continue to do that. With that being said, I am going to continue to make as much of an effort to try and prevent and eliminate driving under the influence as much as I can.”

Cooksey ended his presentation dropping the same set of keys that took the life of his best friend. Now, he invites everyone to Drop Your Pride and not drive under the influence.

Drop your pride
Dropyourpride.org

 

The Backdrop Behind Curry’s First-Year Coordinator

BY TYLER MILLIKEN // Feb. 28, 2017 //

Since joining Curry College as the First-Year Coordinator in 2015, Silas Pearman has played a crucial part in making sure first-year students begin their Colonel careers on the right foot.

Before making his transition to New England and Curry College, Pearman grew up in South Carolina where he developed an indistinguishable southern twang. He’d attend Furman University as an undergraduate in Greenville, SC, before returning to the university for work years later.

Pearman spent the next ten years at his alma mater, helping the school redo their entire general education program.

However, the combination of the Boston area and Curry’s employment needs drew Pearman to uproot his life in the South.

“I had never visited or lived in New England and I enjoy traveling and seeing new places,”  Pearman explained. “It was an opportunity to basically replant myself.”

Throughout Pearman’s first academic year at Curry, he fulfilled a role the college was implementing for the very first time; assisting in the development of Curry’s new and improved First Year Inquiries courses along with the newly established General Education curriculum. His ability to understand how the campus functioned and operated, made it easy for Silas to connect with first-year students almost immediately.

si
First-Year Coordinator Silas Pearman’s passion and dedication reflects Curry’s mission. // PHOTO BY TYLER MILLIKEN //

But first-years wouldn’t be the only students who Pearman connected with, as he chose to become a faculty advisor for the Gender Sexuality Club.

“Being a gay man, I wanted to be an advocate for LGBT students. So, there was just an automatic connection,” Pearson noted.

Silas has been a constant voice for students being targeted by hate crimes on campus these last few months.

Passion has played a crucial part in Pearman joining the Curry community with such ease. In the time since he arrived, Silas has been focused on edging his way into the mix. He has hopes of working with as many students on campus as possible, even if they don’t correlate directly with his department.

Although year one was a significant adjustment for Pearman, year two has welcomed even larger challenges for the First-Year Coordinator. The addition of Curry’s new General Education program and the First-Year Inquiry Seminar has created some havoc, but the transition has enjoyed a fair amount of success.

“There’s challenges within any new program,” Pearman indicated. “Scheduling the classes is a challenge. We’ve had to use different time blocks.”

Despite the First-Year Coordinator role containing a large workload, Pearman continues to teach as a professor and be an advisor on campus.

“I do think if you’re going to be any kind of program coordinator or administrator, that you should also be teaching in the classroom as well,” Pearman vocalized. “Otherwise, you’re organizing a program for people that you’re not connected to or don’t understand,”.

While Pearman has played a crucial part in getting the General Education program off the ground, his goals have yet to be slowed down.

“I think my next biggest goal is to help students understand and communicate the value of the FYI [First-Year Inquiry], and to try and develop a system where students feel like they have the opportunity to select topics they’re truly excited about.”

When looking ahead at the new direction Pearson has helped lead Curry in, he believes there will be even more growth in the following years. As the school has the chance to discuss change and the assessments given to students, there is bound to be new information that arises.

Although Pearman has joined Curry rather recently, he offered some positive sentiments when it comes to his future at the school.

“I’ve made the decision to come to Curry because the college communicated to me that they value students and value faculty-student relationships. That’s kind of been my guidepost in my higher education career,” Pearman made clear. “If Curry remains committed to those ideals, then yes, I’ll be very happy in terms of coordinating programs that continue to promote that spirit.”

As Curry continues to establish new First-Year programs and prepare freshmen students for the stressful rigors of college, Dr. Silas Pearman will continue to have a large role in the school’s growth.

The passion and dedication he puts towards his craft each day, reflects the ideals Curry College preaches towards each one of their students when classes begin every Monday morning.

The Bellitti Backcourt

BY BRANDON WILFORE // Nov. 27, 2016 //

Out of 100 children born in the United States, three of them will have a twin. 3.1 percent of high school senior basketball players will make it to the next level. Combine those two statistics, and the odds of twins playing college basketball are slim.

Oh and don’t forget they are playing for the same college. These near-impossible odds were defied by Jaelen and Jordan George-Bellitti here at Curry College.

They grew up in Cambridge, Mass. with their mother Jasmine Bellitti and brothers Jermaine and Jacoby Houston. Basketball has been in their blood from a young age as they started playing in leagues at the age of five.

They both attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School where they played basketball. When asked about the school Jaelen said simply, “I loved it there.”hs-champs

That love may very well have been enhanced by the Division 1 State Championship that the twins won together in their final year wearing Cambridge across their chests.

Despite their similar faces and jerseys, don’t judge a book by its cover.

One big difference the brothers mentioned was their personality. Jordan mentioned that even in his daily life, “I [like to] go about every task like it is my last chance.”

This passion doesn’t only translate to the hardwood either, as he prides himself inside the classroom as well. Jordan says that from an early age, his family taught him to always put school first. Now being in college, working hard behind classroom doors comes naturally.

Jaelen, an easy going kid who loves to laugh, talked about that family influence saying, “Our mom encourages us to be the best that we can.”

He showed some of that admiration for laughing when he answered the question, ‘How are you and your brother different’? With a big smile on his face, he said, “We look different.”

However, when he is needed to ditch that flashy smile and go to work, Jaelen gets in the zone with thoughts of his late friend, Davonte Neal.sneaker-bands

Neal died of Leukemia in 2014 and whenever Jaelen feels like slacking, Neal comes to mind.

He is with him every minute on the court, as Jaelen wears orange bands for Leukemia awareness on his sneakers.

But when he does have the time to slack off and take a break from hitting the books or the Miller Field House gym to practice windmill dunks, Jaelen and Jordan still have that orange ball on their mind.

Jordan will take the time to watch and study basketball to add to his studious attitude. Even his twitter feed displays his passion for basketball, as almost all of the tweets are basketball-related.

Jaelen studies a little differently, turning on the old video game console to play NBA 2K or he’ll hang out with friends and play pick-up basketball.

The brothers went all-in on basketball, not even playing another sport in high school.

That specialization has led both of them to spend countless hours watching all the various styles of all the different players who have come in and out of the League. Jordan summed his game up by saying, “I try to play smart like LeBron James and jump like Vince Carter.”

Jaelen talked about Allen Iverson being his favorite NBA player because “He is a killer. He doesn’t fear anything.”

If you watch Jaelen play, you can clearly see that in him; driving the basketball toward the hoop against bigger guys who could be four or five years older. Jaelen doesn’t care, though; he will finish through, around, or even over you.

So, two brothers, good grades, great basketball players, admirable values and habits that will help them succeed on and off the court. This must mean colleges are drooling all over them, right? The two-for-one package already has the chemistry that coaches dream about in the backcourt. Who is going to turn that down?

Well, in Jordan’s case, apparently a lot; “I wear number 0 [here] because that is the amount of schools that recruited me [other than Curry].”

On the other hand, Jaelen had the attention of Suffolk University, Pine Manor, and Wheelock Colleges.

But Jordan noted that “My brother and I always dreamed of playing in the backcourt together.”

He went on to explain that nowhere else but “here at Curry [could] we would step into a high minute role and be expected to produce. Coach LeVangie told us his plan and we bought in immediately.”

Despite last year’s lack of success through a 0-25 campaign, the brothers both had faith in Head Coach Matt LeVangie.

Jordan added, “We believe this school will allow my brother and I to be the ‘Bellitti Backcourt’ we’ve dreamed about.” Now, these brothers are living out the scenarios they created in their own driveway nearly 15 years ago.

Their teammates have been some of the first to notice this special backcourt matriculating in front of their very eyes.

Senior forward Paul Preziosi has seen plenty of players come through the program over his roller coaster of a career but says the Bellitti’s are just different.

From winning a few games his first two years to not winning one his junior season, Preziosi wants to get it done his senior year. He thinks Jordan and Jaelen may just be able to help.

Even LeVangie knows what he has in these brothers from Cambridge; “They have the athleticism and skill to become great players; they just have to put in the work.”

When asked if the twins had any added chemistry because they have played together for so long, LeVangie joked, “I haven’t seen them make any out-of-this-world passes using twin telepathy.”

However, he did note that if one of them is in a funk, the other brother takes no time to encourage him, and it is effective.

That reinforcement shows on the court and only adds to their physical attributes.

“They are both 6’3” at the guard spots which gives them a height and length advantage over a lot of guards in our conference,” said LeVangie.

This should immensely help the Colonels defensively as they gave up more than 90 points in seven different games last season. In their first ever taste of the next level, the brothers both got the starting nod and were introduced from the bench where they sat side-by-side.

They wasted no time showing everyone what the next four years has in store as the crowd immediately started asking, ‘Who are number 0 and 24? These kids can play.’

By the end of a heartbreaking double-overtime loss, the brothers were all over the stat sheet.

Jordan tallied 41 minutes, 18 points and nine rebounds. It took no more than a single game to find out if he could indeed channel his inner LeBron in crunch time.

With the crowd on its feet and the pressure on, Jordan tied the game up with just tenths of seconds to play to send the game to a second overtime period.

Jaelen played 39 minutes, registering five points and four rebounds. Three of those points came with little time, though, when the Colonels found themselves down five late in double overtime. Jaelen dribbled down the court and hit a three-pointer to shave the lead to a manageable two.

Despite not coming out with a win, the twins showed a drastic change for the Purple and White.

When they were told they would get a high minute role, Coach LeVangie wasn’t bluffing. The twins played the second and third-most minutes on the team, behind only captain Preziosi.

At this level of basketball, the coach is going to play the best five players that give him the chance to win. Jordan and Jaelen were two of those five, and will likely be all season.

It was only one game and I’m not calling Jordan and Jaelen the next Westbrook and Durant or MJ and Pippen or even Shaq and Kobe.

But they are the Bellitti Backcourt and they are going to pave their own legacy.

Student Body President Has Much to Accomplish Before His Term Ends

BY CHRISTIANNA CASALETTO // OCT. 3, 2016 //

Student Body President Cameron Hoyt is five weeks into his final semester in his position. However, he still has a lot he’d like to accomplish before he steps down.

Hoyt is a senior Psychology major and has been an active member of the Student Government Association for the last 3 ½ years.

cam-hoyt
2016 Student Body President Cameron Hoyt // IMAGE CREDIT: CURRY COLLEGE

SGA’s purpose is to be the representative student voice and serve as the connection between students and faculty, staff, and administration. SGA tackles campus issues, plans events, and meets with senior staff to get students what they really want and need.

“Anything you want to change, that’s what we’re here for,” says Hoyt.

Some things Hoyt had a major role in implementing during his time as Student Body President include finally getting not one but two curry college geotags, and installing three new blue lights on campus.

“[Senior Class VP] Taylor Jones and I have really focused on how many blue lights we have on campus and how important they are to the safety of campus.”

Hoyt began his time on SGA his freshman year when he was elected as the freshman class Vice President.

“Right from there I knew I wanted to get more involved.”

He wasted no time and ran for the executive board the next year.

“I ran for the e-board and became the executive treasurer, then I ran and became executive vice president, and here I am as the student body president today.”

Hoyt received his position as Student Body President after Martin Heavy ’16 graduated a semester early last fall. Similarly, Hoyt will be graduating a semester early, meaning a new Student Body President will be elected before the spring semester begins.

Hoyt will offer the current Student Body Vice President, Zoe Staude his position. The assembly will then vote on that decision.

The other e-board members, Treasurer Nick Wheeler ‘17 and Secretary Paulina Adams ’19, will be offered the VP position and can either accept or decline (the assembly again has to vote and approve). If they both decline it will be the responsibility of the newly elected Student Body President to appoint a new VP.

sga-eboard
2016 Student Government Association Executive Board. (from left to right) Secretary Paulina Adams ’19, President Cameron Hoyt ’17, Vice President Zoe Staude ’16, and Treasurer Nick Wheeler ’17. // IMAGE CREDIT: CURRY COLLEGE

But before his time on SGA is over, Hoyt has some more things he’d like to see changed on campus. These include installing outdoor security cameras in light of thefts on campus, ensuring the Wi-Fi runs properly, and informing students about changes to the student activities fees.

“We’re working closely with the student activities fee because every year it has gone up and I don’t think students notice that even though it has gone up no more events have come to campus, nothing has changed, nothing has been added…so we are looking into that.”

Hoyt continues, “I just want to be able to walk around campus and hear that students are actually enjoying our changes…people have noticed the blue lights and I want to do that with the Wi-Fi and security cameras.”

But more than anything, Hoyt just wants his fellow students to enjoy their experience at Curry College and to take pride in being a Colonel.

“I like to hear students positive about Curry because I love it so much that I want others to feel the way that I do,” says Hoyt.

Hoyt has always been an active member in the Curry community. In addition to his 3 ½ years on SGA, Hoyt was the Orientation Coordinator for summer 2016, an Orientation leader for the 2014 & 2015 summers, Resident Assistant for the 2014-2015 & 2015-2016 academic years, maintains two on campus jobs, and performed as the Curry College mascot, the Colonel, last spring with the Cheerleading team in Daytona.

“There are some ups and downs but I want everyone to really love Curry as much as I do.”

SGA is an open forum, anyone can attend any meeting. Hoyt and SGA welcome students to come and see what they’re doing for the school. SGA meetings are every Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. in the Student Center large meeting room.

For questions or more information on SGA, please contact sga@curry.edu.