Women’s Basketball Closes Out-of-Conference Play with Win Over Albany

NOTE: This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in December 2020.

The Fordham women’s basketball team entered Tuesday afternoon with a bad taste in its mouth. After a victory on Friday night over Hofstra in which sophomore guard Anna DeWolfe flirted with the program’s single-game scoring record, the Rams kicked off conference play with a loss to Davidson in which they allowed 79 points and multiple easy baskets in the second half.

On Tuesday, though, Fordham finished out-of-conference play by righting the ship against UAlbany. The game was not initially on the two teams’ schedules, but both agreed to play the game after losing games on their schedule due to COVID-19-related cancelations.

Fordham earned a 71-42 victory over the Great Danes to move to 3-2 on the season. DeWolfe once again led the team with 21 points on 8-16 shooting. Senior Kendell Heremaia, who was plagued by early foul trouble in Monday’s loss, played her best game of the season, earning 13 points and 11 rebounds before halftime. Junior forward Meg Jonassen, inserted into the starting lineup since Friday night’s game against Hofstra, came a rebound shy of a double-double, with 12 points and nine rebounds.

The win on Tuesday was a complete reversal of the team’s play on Monday. While Monday’s Rams allowed 79 points and over 50% shooting, Tuesday’s Rams allowed just 42 points on slightly below 33% shooting for UAlbany. 31 of the Great Danes’ 42 points were scored in the second half when the outcome was largely decided; Fordham carried a 37-11 lead into the halftime break and never looked back. 

Fordham’s defense was the story of the game. The Rams allowed just four made field goals in the first half on 25 UAlbany attempts. After Monday’s performance, Fordham was far more disciplined and aggressive defensively, forcing difficult shots that led to misses and turnovers. Both of Fordham’s interior forwards, Jonassen and junior Kaitlyn Downey, played excellent defensive games, forcing the likes of UAlbany sophomore forward Hilene Haegerstrand, who entered the game averaging 15 points per game, into contested shots. Haegerstrand earned just two points on 1-5 shooting.

Tuesday’s win comes at the end of a rollercoaster three-game stretch for Fordham. On Friday, the Rams took down Hofstra 72-58. Assistant coach Val Nainima earned her first career head coaching win, as head coach Stephanie Gaitley remained in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19. On Monday, Gaitley returned, but Davidson ran away with an Atlantic 10-opening victory. On Tuesday, Fordham put it back together, with a strong win over UAlbany to finish off conference play.

Now, Fordham looks ahead to the start of conference play. The Rams will take on George Mason on New Year’s Day at 1 p.m. and George Washington on Jan. 3. After a bumpy start to conference play on Monday, Fordham gets a break before the work of succeeding in the Atlantic 10 resumes in 2021.

With so little certainty around this college basketball season, though, both teams will be happy with the ability to play a game, even if only one team technically won.

Women’s Basketball Home Opener Canceled; Head Coach Stephanie Gaitley to Quarantine After Exposure to COVID-19

NOTE: This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in December 2020.

The Fordham women’s basketball team’s home opener against Fairleigh Dickinson has been canceled shortly before tip-off after head coach Stephanie Gaitley came into contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19 outside the program. Both teams’ medical staffs agreed to cancel Thursday night’s game, and Gaitley will now quarantine for the next two weeks, per both New York state and Fordham University protocol.

According to Fordham’s press release, both teams will look into the possibility of playing the game later in the season, even though both teams begin their conference schedules next week. All of Fordham’s COVID-19 tests within their Tier 1 personnel — players, coaches and staff — have come back negative. 

Tuesday night’s game was set to be a homecoming for Fairleigh Dickinson head coach Ang Szumilo, who spent 17 years under Gaitley as an assistant coach. One of Szumilo’s assistants, Lauren Holden, played for Gaitley at Fordham from 2015-19.

Gaitley told the Ram, “We are disappointed about not playing against FDU and seeing Coach Ang and Lauren Holden back at Rose Hill- but we understand the fluidity of what we are dealing with and the health and welfare of everyone involved takes priority!”

Second-Half Surge Sinks Women’s Basketball at Quinnipiac

NOTE: This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in December 2020.

The Fordham women’s basketball team took the court for the first time in 10 days on Saturday, but the Rams didn’t get the result they wanted.

Fordham fell 62-58 at Quinnipiac on Saturday after blowing a double-digit second-half lead at the hands of the Bobcats. Quinnipiac outscored Fordham 34-17 over the final 18 minutes of the game to earn the 450th career victory for the team’s head coach, Tricia Fabbri. 

Fordham got off to a slow start offensively, making just three of 13 attempts in the first quarter. The Rams’ defense kept them in the game early on, and Fordham took a lead early in the first quarter that it would keep for most of the rest of the first half. Fordham extended that lead to 13 points with a pair of free throws from sophomore guard Anna DeWolfe two minutes into the second half.

From that point on, though, Quinnipiac took over the game. The Bobcats scored the next 14 points to take the lead by quarter’s end. Fordham failed to score for nearly five minutes, and a third-quarter lineup of DeWolfe, sophomore guard Sarah Karpell, senior guard Katie McLoughlin, junior forward Meg Jonassen and freshman center Maranda Nyborg struggled offensively for the final six minutes of the quarter. 

The fourth quarter was close throughout, but Fordham spent all of the final 10 minutes playing from behind. McLoughlin’s layup with 4:34 to play brought the lead down to one, but Fordham could not convert on subsequent chances to take the lead. Three-pointers by DeWolfe and junior forward Kaitlyn Downey kept Fordham within two inside of a minute to go, and DeWolfe’s layup with 12 seconds left cut the margin to one. After Quinnipiac sophomore center Mikala Morris split a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left, Fordham looked to tie it.

McLoughlin dribbled along the baseline and tried to complete a pass to Nyborg underneath the basket. As she fell out of bounds, though, her pass went wide for a turnover. Morris’ two free throws on the next possession iced the game and the loss for Fordham.

Morris led all Quinnipiac scorers with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Bobcats junior guard Rose Caverly added 14 points. 

On the Fordham side, DeWolfe once again led Fordham in scoring. She scored 21 points on 7-16 shooting, including six points in the fourth quarter despite facing nearly constant double-teams from the Bobcats’ defense. Downey recorded her second-straight double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and McLoughlin scored a career-high 12 points as well. Fordham’s offense, though, was plagued by turnovers all game, with 19 in total and six in the third quarter alone. Quinnipiac outscored Fordham 16-7 off turnovers, accounting for the four-point difference in the game.

Fordham was unable to hold on to a double-digit second-half lead in its first time on the court since Nov. 25. Fordham was supposed to play Manhattan on Dec. 2, but that game was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test within the Manhattan program. 

Fordham’s next scheduled game is its home opener against Fairleigh Dickinson on Tuesday night at the Rose Hill Gym. The game will be a reunion of sorts, with former Fordham assistant coach Ang Szumilo returning to the Bronx for the first time as the Knights’ head coach. Fairleigh Dickinson had advanced to the semifinal of the Northeast Conference tournament last season before it was canceled due to COVID-19. Tuesday’s game will also be a homecoming for one of Szumilo’s assistant coaches, Lauren Holden, who served as the starting point guard on Fordham’s Atlantic 10-winning team in 2019.

Tip-off from the Rose Hill Gym is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Women’s Basketball Home Opener Canceled Due to Positive COVID-19 Test

NOTE: This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in December 2020.

The haphazard start of the college basketball season continued this week, as both the Fordham men’s and women’s basketball teams had games canceled due to COVID-19.

On the women’s side, the Rams were scheduled to take on Manhattan on Dec. 2. However, the Jaspers had a positive COVID-19 test among its Tier 1 (players, coaches, staff) personnel last week, forcing the team into quarantine and the game into cancelation. 

Fordham is coming off of an impressive season-opening win over Stony Brook, a team that won 28 games a season ago. Sophomore guard Anna DeWolfe led all scorers with 25 points. Junior forward Kaitlyn Downey scored 16 points and added a career-high 20 rebounds — for her effort on both ends of the floor, Downey was named the Atlantic 10’s player of the week. The team is scheduled to visit Quinnipiac on Saturday in a matchup of two teams that made the NCAA Tournament in 2019.

This is a season unlike any other in college basketball. As of Tuesday morning, 35 men’s basketball programs were shut down due to a positive COVID-19 test. As teams continue to travel for games and the coronavirus spread continues to explode throughout the country, more games will be shut down as teams deal with possible outbreaks.

The Fordham women’s basketball team knew this was a possibility entering the season.

“You’re expecting to play a team the next day, and all of a sudden, it gets taken away just like that,” Downey said before the season. “So just understanding that there’s going to be a lot of errors in this season and just being ready to take the punches and keep moving on, because we know at the end of the day, we want to win an A-10 championship, and it’s going to take just moving through all those punches, winning the games that we have available to us and just moving forward.”

Fordham’s conference schedule begins on Dec. 21 against Davidson. The team hopes it can get a few more opportunities to fine-tune before then.

Looking Back on Fordham University’s Strategy Against COVID-19

NOTE: This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in December 2020.

The Fordham dorms closed last week, as all students were sent home for the semester. The early closing of the dorms was part of the university’s plan to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the university never hit 100 cases, at which point New York state rules would have sent all students into remote study, cases were increasing rapidly in the last two weeks before the residence halls closed.  

Marco Valera, Fordham’s COVID-19 coordinator, sent an email to the university community on Nov. 24, acknowledging that cases were rising. He said that 79 members of the university community tested positive for COVID-19 within a two-week period. This spread not only signified an increase in Fordham’s cases, but it also mirrored an increased level of community spread in the Bronx, around Fordham’s Rose Hill campus.

This community spread is concerning to university officials as they ponder whether or not the dorms will be able to reopen for the spring 2021 semester.  Jeffrey L. Gray, Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, announced in an email to the university community on Oct. 15 that on campus housing for the spring will open prior to the first day of classes on Feb. 1. The university has not announced any further details. 

Maureen Keown, director of University Health Services, said in an interview that students need to stay vigilant in the final months before a vaccine is widely available.

“We are a community of people who love NYC and travel in NYC,” Keown said. “We try to go to restaurants with outdoor dining and see some of the sites that are still open and available during this COVID crisis, but we need to remain smart and careful. We are all becoming COVID-tired, but there is a light ahead with the vaccine, and we just all need to be vigilant until that time comes where we can get out again.”

In addition to community spread, there is the matter of testing. Should the university reopen in the spring, it has not announced any details about how it will handle testing. After beginning the fall with an aggressive testing plan, Fordham moved to monthly mandatory testing for most on-campus students starting in October, a testing regime that was less frequent than many other universities. In an interview with the Ram, former Fordham faculty member Dr. Daniel  Mroczek, who has a Ph.D. in developmental psychology, spent three years in a post-doctoral fellowship in epidemiology at the University of Michigan and currently teaches psychology at Northwestern University. Mroczek sounded impressed with Fordham’s protocols.

“The fact that Fordham [will test] everybody, that’s pretty good,” Mroczek said. “I would say that’s a pretty decent strategy. Once a month is probably okay.”  

However, not all doctors agree with this viewpoint. Dr. Amesh Adalja is a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. He commended Fordham for having its own testing program in the first place, but he also said the school could do more.

“The higher the frequency of testing, the more likely you are to catch cases early and limit [the] spread,” he said. “So, the more you can do, the better it always will be.” Adalja also noted that it would be challenging for colleges and universities to combat COVID-19 spread on campus if there was community spread around the school.

As schools around the country weighed the benefits and risks of reopening this fall, universities found different ways to deal with COVID-19, each with differing tracing, testing and isolation programs.

One such school is Quinnipiac University, located about 75 miles north of Fordham’s campus. Quinnipiac’s medical director, Dr. David Wang, spoke with the Ram about some of the difficulties the school has faced in its COVID-19 response.

“I think everyone is dealing with the same issues,” Wang said. “There are students congregating off campus. There are parties, there are things going on that are not safe, you know? And so I think that’s pretty much universal. I don’t think we’re immune to that.”

For its part, Quinnipiac has taken some additional precautions against COVID-19. Namely, the school has a color-coded alert system to gauge the threat for the university community.

“The genesis for the coding system was that even before the semester started; people wanted to know, was there criteria to close the campus?” Wang said. “Let’s say back in the end of August, that’s a question everybody wanted. You have to come up with a way to let them know where we are in this process.”  Fordham does not do this, nor is it required to do so in the New York state dashboard. 

Wang said that the environment colleges are in is critical for their containment of COVID-19.

“The environment that we’re in, the states that we live in, look different now than they did a month ago than they did the month before,” Wang said. “So we have to change our plans according to what is happening in the state, we have to change our plans based on [the] availability of testing, and things like that. There’s all sorts of things that are being looked at. It’s very difficult.”

Despite its relative success in keeping cases low, Fordham has been criticized for lack of transparency in its COVID-19 response. The school has been light on details regarding the development of its testing procedures and timing of testing phases, leading to calls for transparency. Wang stressed the importance of transparency in building trust with the community that the school is obligated to protect.

“It’s extremely important,” he said. “It’s critical. So much time has been spent preparing for this.”

One difficulty of dealing with COVID-19 is the community spread around a college campus. Much like the rest of the country, the Bronx has experienced a spike in new cases over the past month or so, and the borough is now averaging nearly 400 cases per day after averaging under 100 cases per day for most of the summer. 

Quinnipiac has dealt with its own COVID-19 outbreaks, including one in early November that shifted most classes online. Hamden, Connecticut, which houses Quinnipiac’s campus, recently rolled back its reopening to phase 2 after a local spike.

In addition to detailing Quinnipiac’s plans to fight COVID-19, Wang also stressed the importance of testing.

“The higher the frequency of testing, the more likely you are to catch cases early and limit spread,” he said. “So, the more you can do, the better it always will be.”

Overtime: No Matter How Well You Did It

NOTE: This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in December 2020.

What do you write when you’re out of ideas and out of time?

That’s the question I’ve been contemplating over the past few days, as I get ready to hand over the reins of the sports section to Alex Wolz, Kaley Bell and Michael Hernandez. I’ve been the sports editor here at the Ram for the last two years, and I’ve been on staff for the last three. And as terrible as this sounds, in my last Overtime article for the Ram, I don’t have much left to say.

This isn’t to say that I haven’t loved my time with this paper. Starting out as a wide-eyed freshman, I honestly had no idea my time with the Ram would come to this. To be honest, many of my days since getting to Fordham have mainly consisted of making sure I get to the next one, without some larger goal of what I’d like my college experience to be. So before you ask, no, I did not think I would be sitting here three years later as the Ram’s outgoing sports editor when I first joined the editorial staff three years ago.

As I said in a far-too-emotional From the Desk a couple of weeks ago, I will miss everyone who has made this newspaper so great over the time that I have been here. The reality is, getting to write another Overtime article is just another opportunity to say goodbye, but I already said goodbye. And being that I hate it when I’m leaving a large gathering with my family (remember those?) and they insist on saying goodbye to everyone multiple times, I’d instead like to take this time to pay homage to some of the great things that have happened over the past three years that didn’t have to do with me.

As I’ve realized over the past few months, this section may not be nothing without Fordham sports. But it’s certainly substantially less.

For example, just days after I was named an assistant sports editor in 2017, the Fordham men’s soccer team embarked on a run to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament, a feat unprecedented for a program that has been highly successful before and since. The Fordham women’s basketball team went to the NCAA Tournament in 2019 and is consistently in the conversation for conference championships. The Fordham softball team has dominated the Atlantic 10 over the past decade, with a chance to continue their reign in 2021. Finally, the Fordham squash team has won the Chaffee Cup in back-to-back seasons, proving their own dominance over the area as well.

But it’s not just the on-field accomplishments that stand out in the past few years. Fordham Athletics reckoned with COVID-19 over the past few months, with athletes looking to find ways to stay ready for a return to action, whenever that may be. A group of Fordham student-athletes started Fordham Connect, a group that aims to address the needs of other student-athletes by providing a safe space for them to share their experiences. Another group of Fordham student-athletes founded The Herd, a group that seeks to increase student involvement in Fordham Athletics. 

That doesn’t cover all of it, and the Fordham Athletics community continues to do great things each day. They will continue to do so in the years to come. Alex, Kaley, Michael and the crew will cover it all for you in an exemplary manner, and I’ll still be around until May as part of that group.

To put it simply, I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing with this column. Actually, I haven’t really known what I’ve been doing since joining the staff as a freshman, so why start now?

In the process of writing this article, I received a parachute on Twitter from @jodotcom relaying a story about something Kurt Vonnegut once said. The author went on an archaeological dig when he was 15 years old, and he told one of the archaeologists that he sang in choir, played multiple instruments and used to take art classes, but he also said he wasn’t good at any of those things.

The archaeologist responded: “I don’t think the point of things is being good at them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.” I have not always — or often — been good at this job. But maybe that wasn’t the point.

Men’s Basketball on Pause Again After Positive COVID-19 Test

NOTE: This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in November 2020.

The Fordham men’s basketball team has paused activities after a member of its Tier 1 personnel (student-athletes, coaches, staff) tested positive for COVID-19, according to a release from the school.

The 14-day pause began on Nov. 26, and the team hopes to be out of quarantine by Dec. 12. With the positive test, the Rams’ Dec. 8 game against St. John’s, which was supposed to be the team’s season opener after its first two games were canceled due to positive tests in the Iona and Manhattan programs, has also been canceled.

This is the second positive COVID-19 test on the men’s basketball team in the past month. The team went on pause on Oct. 31 after a positive test

As of now, the team’s new season opener against Maine is scheduled to be played on Dec. 12. Maine has also paused workouts after a member of its program tested positive for COVID-19.

Women’s Basketball Holds On for Season-Opening Win Over Stony Brook

NOTE: This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in November 2020.

Much like the last time it played, the Fordham women’s basketball team built a lead of nearly 20 points in the third quarter. And, much like the last time they played a game that counted, the Rams saw that lead steadily dwindle.

This time, though, Fordham held on for a victory.

The Rams took down Stony Brook 62-58 on Wednesday behind 23 points from sophomore guard Anna DeWolfe in the first half and a career-high 20 rebounds from junior forward Kaitlyn Downey. Fordham has started its season with a high-quality win, as Stony Brook went 28-3 a season ago and was scheduled to play in the America East Conference championship game on March 13, before it was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. Fordham also hung on despite losing an 18-point lead in the third quarter. Stony Brook had multiple chances to take the lead late in the game.

Fordham’s win also snaps a 20-game home winning streak for Stony Brook, which had been the third-longest home winning streak in the nation. Wednesday’s game at Island Federal Credit Union Arena in Stony Brook, New York was played without fans.

“That was a great win for a lot of reasons — winning on the road and stopping their [win] streak, coming back after building a lead, seeing different kids stepping up to the challenge,” Fordham head coach Stephanie Gaitley told Fordham Athletics after the win.

DeWolfe sought her own shot all game long, en route to scoring 23 points in the first half. Fordham took a 39-25 lead into the half, and the Rams expanded that lead to 18 points early in the third quarter. At that point, the defending America East regular-season champions began to mount a charge.

The Seawolves went on a 17-3 run, led by junior guard Asiah Dingle, to cut the lead to four points early in the fourth quarter. Dingle finished the day as Stony Brook’s leading scorer, with 22 points and five rebounds. Senior forward India Pagan’s layup cut the lead to just a point with 6:33 to go.

The teams went back-and-forth for the next few minutes. The Seawolves had a handful of chances to tie the game or take the lead but were unable to cash in on any of them. With just over a minute to go, sophomore guard Sarah Karpell — who spent much of the game containing Stony Brook junior guard Anastasia Warren to six points — missed a midrange jumper. Downey pulled in her 19th rebound of the game and kicked back out to Karpell. The sophomore, who made just seven of 34 three-point attempts as a freshman, nailed a shot from the corner to give Fordham a five-point lead. After a pair of free throws from Pagan, Downey’s two made free throws put Fordham back up by five, and Fordham would go on to win 62-58.

Fordham’s success on Wednesday was largely due to its presence on the offensive glass. The Rams had 13 offensive rebounds on the game and outrebounded Stony Brook 39-28 overall. Downey had five offensive rebounds and senior guard Katie McLoughlin — making her first career start in her last season with the program — added another three to lead the way. The offensive rebounding afforded Fordham 12 second-chance points to Stony Brook’s eight, a difference that also constituted Fordham’s margin of victory. 

The performance wasn’t perfect for Fordham. Senior guard Kendell Heremaia was plagued by foul trouble all game and scored six points in 16 minutes. The Rams turned the ball over 19 times, an uncharacteristically high number for a team that had the fewest turnovers in the Atlantic 10 last season, with 11.6 per game.

The Rams are back in action on Dec. 5 at Quinnipiac. The team’s home opener against Manhattan College, scheduled for Dec. 2, has been canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test within the Jaspers program

But after an offseason like none other, one that saw Fordham have its 2019-20 season cut short and lose its best player, Fordham is more than happy to earn a victory to start its season. That the win came over one of the area’s best teams makes it even sweeter.

In Season of Uncertainty, Women’s Basketball Looks to Get Back on Top in the Atlantic 10

NOTE: This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in November 2020.

The Fordham women’s basketball team enters the 2020-21 season, which has been delayed by two weeks, with unfinished business after the way last season ended. The Rams led their A-10 semifinal game by as many as 17 points in the second half before Virginia Commonwealth University came back to win the game. Fordham’s consolation would have come in the WNIT, but that tournament and all other NCAA competitions were soon canceled on March 12 due to the escalating coronavirus pandemic. 

Needless to say, a lot has happened since Fordham’s last game on March 7. But Fordham’s task of winning a conference title remains unchanged, and the team is ready to get back on the court.

“It’s probably more of getting the bad taste out of our mouth of not finishing off the VCU game than it is not playing in the NIT,” Fordham coach Stephanie Gaitley said. “Of just realizing that was an opportunity that slipped away, and how can we learn from that, and how can we be prepared to not let that happen again?”

The Rams return next week with most of their core intact. Senior guard Kendell Heremaia returns after blossoming into a do-it-all third-team all-conference player, having averaged nearly 12 points and eight rebounds per game last season. Sophomore guard Anna DeWolfe, the team’s leading returning scorer, is fresh off being named to the Atlantic 10’s all-rookie team. Junior forward Kaitlyn Downey will also play a pivotal role, having started all but one game last season while providing shooting and inside presence offensively and versatility defensively. Sophomore guard Sarah Karpell returns after showcasing defensive prowess in her freshman year, and junior forward Meg Jonassen, who specializes in offensive rebounding, figures to play a key role off the bench.

However, there is one omission in the players returning to Rose Hill this year. Bryson Cavanaugh, who came out last month as a transgender man, will not be with the team this season. The defending Atlantic 10 Player of the Year will leave a large void in both spirit and production, and the team faces the difficulty of replacing his output in the aggregate, which will not be an easy task.

“You can’t really spend a lot of time on it because you can’t change it,” Gaitley said about missing her team’s best player from a season ago. Gaitley also said that “different kids are gonna step up” when it comes to compensating for Cavanaugh’s absence.

DeWolfe spent her offseason gaining strength, something she feels could help her overall performance this offseason. When the season stopped in mid-March, she took advantage of her home gym to lift during the week, going to Zoom workout sessions with one of the team’s strength and conditioning coaches, Josh Greer.

In addition to these improvements, DeWolfe also became a team captain. She, along with Downey and senior guard Katie McLoughlin, will be the team’s three captains heading into this season. McLoughlin said that this honor, which would be special in any season, carries added weight with the uncertainty that surrounds the sport this year.

“With so much uncertainty surrounding this year, I want to be a solid foundation for the entire team and take everything I have learned from great leaders before me and be able to do that for this team,” she said. “I have such high hopes for this team and think we are capable of accomplishing amazing things, so being able to help lead us to those successes is a huge responsibility that I hold with high regard.”

While DeWolfe focused on the physical aspect of her game, Downey honed in on the mental side, spending the offseason listening to podcasts about mental strength and studying game film from last season.

“I just wanted to reflect back, because a lot of time we forget what it looks like on the court when we’re playing, and then you watch film and you’re like, ‘wow, I could’ve done that, that and that,” Downey said. She also said she watched some of the NBA Finals when she got back to campus this fall to learn from those games as well.

In addition to the players coming back from last year’s team, Fordham will also add five freshmen to the fold this season. Gaitley said she was particularly impressed with forward Maranda Nyborg, a 6’3″ freshman from Bethel, Connecticut. Gaitley also said she could also see guard Matilda Flood from Bathurst, Australia and Riley DeRubbo from Washington, Pennsylvania as players who could also contribute right away.

However, the freshmen have had to adjust, and Gaitley and her staff are trying to get them up to speed as quickly as possible. Without any exhibition or preseason games before the season opener against Stony Brook next week, this is a difficult task.

But despite these difficulties, this is a season unlike any other, and the team has a vested interest in making it to the finish line. 

“We just obviously want to play the season and get a chance to finish it, and not just start it,” DeWolfe said.

McLoughlin added that adapting and adjusting to uncertainty would be the biggest challenge facing the Rams this season.

“Anything can change at any given point, and we have seen that countless times already this season, so we will have to remain focused on our goals,” she said. “This takes always being mentally and physically ready which can be very difficult at times, but so far we have proven to persevere through uncertainty already.”

“You’re expecting to play a team the next day, and all of a sudden, it gets taken away just like that,” Downey said. “So just understanding that there’s going to be a lot of errors in this season and just being ready to take the punches and keep moving on, because we know at the end of the day, we want to win an A-10 championship, and it’s going to take just moving through all those punches, winning the games that we have available to us and just moving forward.”

From the Desk: Going the Distance

NOTE: This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in November 2020.

I came to Fordham in the fall of 2017 as a freshman who didn’t know the difference between right and left. I knew I wanted to get involved with the Ram; having spent my senior year of high school as the underqualified editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, I figured I’d give it a shot. Soon, I found myself copy editing from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesdays. 

I knew I wanted to get involved with the sports section — the truth is, it was the only writing I felt I was capable of — and I did, with an assist from Jack McLoone, the sports editor of Volume 99. With a nudge from Jack, I decided to apply for Volume 100 as an assistant sports editor. I thought there was no chance I’d actually get it; the interview went well, but I was aware of the responsibilities of being on staff, and I didn’t want much part of it. 

And then I got the email. Dec. 1, 2017. Upon finding out I’d be an assistant sports editor for Volume 100, my reaction was not one of celebration; it was one of, “What did I just do?” After embarking on my first 11 issues in this role, I’ll be honest: I thought I’d be ready to quit at the end of 2018. The responsibilities were intense, and as a freshman still adjusting to college life without a ton of close friends to begin with, I wasn’t sure how enamored I’d be with continuing. I promised myself I’d take the summer to think about it and come to a decision sometime in the fall.

Over that summer, I came to an important realization: I couldn’t picture my life without the Ram. 

It wasn’t so much about the process of putting together a newspaper, which is fun. I realized the best part of being on staff with the Ram was being in a place with like-minded people who are trying to figure it out the same way you are. People who are subject to a windowless basement for hours each Tuesday night. And people who would do anything for you the same way you would do anything for them.

Needless to say, I stayed, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. My last two years as sports editor have brought their own difficulties, COVID-19 chief among them. But our section and this newspaper have gotten through this, and I’ll always be proud to be part of both. Yes, I’ll miss the late-night chats and displaying my prowess in “Raft Wars” or “Oregon Trail.” (For the record, the key to surviving dysentery is load management.) But I am most proud of what we have achieved since mid-March, with no sports to cover — although that will be changing just in time for me to hand this job to someone else.

That being said, it is the camaraderie that I have mentioned that I miss so much and that I have a hard time describing. I’ve made so many friends through this newspaper, and I anticipate keeping them for the rest of my life. So, naturally, I have some people to thank.

First of all, thank you to Jack McLoone. I owe most of the professional opportunities I’ve gotten in the past four years to him, and that isn’t hyperbole. He gave me my first opportunity to write for the Ram as a golf beat reporter, and I learned so much under his leadership as sports editor in Volume 100. To the executive boards of Volumes 100, 101 and 102 — thank you for leading us through some good times and bad times over the past few years. Most of all, thank you for trusting me with important responsibilities and helping the sports section at all times.

To the real MVPs, the copy team — thank you for being the backbone of this newspaper. Without Erica, Emma and the copy team, we are nothing. I would be remiss not to thank Vanessa, Maggie, Colette and Lindsay, our copy chiefs over the past couple of years. All of you have made me a better writer and a better person as well. 

Finally, to my sports team. This is the hardest part. Dylan, I have pity for what the scores and stats page will look like a few weeks from now. In all seriousness, though, we’ve known each other for a while, and it’s been gratifying to see you grow into the person you’ve become. Andrew, thanks for your friendship and decisive leadership as managing editor this past volume. Our late-night chats over the background noise of the midnight SportsCenter during Volume 101 are a treasured memory of my time with the Ram. And Alex, you’ve been a terrific addition to our staff this past year, and I can’t wait to see what you do in the next couple of years.

There are many more that I have missed. The Ram is such a special place, and I’m going to miss it terribly. After three years on staff, I honestly thought I’d be able to better convey the deep feelings I have for this newspaper better. Instead, I’ll just say that to understand the greatness of this experience, you had to be there.

I’ve been lucky to be here the past three years, and for as much fun as I’ve had, it’s someone else’s turn to experience what I did. I’m just glad I didn’t prematurely pull the plug.