It’s a new year for Whittier College, with the first day of fall instruction taking place on August 24th. However, with the new academic year, comes a new season for all of our sports programs. With almost one-third of Whittier’s students being athletes, they have a lot to look forward to outside of the school itself. Let’s take the chance to preview some of the sports that are fast approaching following the start of the school year.
After an unfortunate 2021 season, the Poets football team aims to turn things around and bounce back heading into 2022. Their previous season did not pan out the way everyone would’ve hoped, going 0-9, but there is hope for a turnaround this upcoming season. Michael Neale, Head Coach of the Poets football team, discussed an aim for a turnaround season in comparison to last year. “We were able to have a full off-season for the first time since 2019… this past spring was the first time any member of our Team had a full spring of strength & conditioning, and was able to take part in a college spring practice, in addition to growing through our spring leadership development program. As such, we made tremendous strides in preparation for the 2022 season.”
Coach Neale mentioned the recruitment of new players to the team and his eagerness to see this team come together, saying “We are excited to bring in a tremendous recruiting class that will not only add depth to our roster at every position but has the ability to compete. Training camp is a great opportunity for our new Team members to learn about our Program on and off the field while preparing for our season” He added, “I look forward to getting together with our entire Team. Then embracing the challenge of helping the members of our Team grow daily on and off of the field both individually and collectively as we get after the 2022 season.”
Third-year Mathias Talavou, who plays offensive linemen, talked about the struggles this team had, saying “Last year we really struggled in numbers… We had some guys playing both ways, some guys had to step up and take on roles they’ve never played, and others got the chance to finally showcase their talents once their number finally got called.”
He added “We’re all one family and getting to work alongside them has definitely been nothing but a grind. Having to take constant mental reps in the film room, training effortlessly within the weight room, and getting work done on the field throughout the entire offseason are just some things we’ve done to prepare for the upcoming 2022 season.” The Poet’s first game of the season takes place on September 10th where they face off against Claremont-M-S on the road. Their home opener comes a week later, on September 13th, when they host Lewis & Clark College.
The women’s volleyball team begins their season the first weekend of September, taking part in the Pacific Coast Classic. In their previous season, the Poets had a record of 10-16, while sitting at 8-8 within the SCIAC conference. Coach Duarte-McDermott talked about his expectations for the Poet’s upcoming season, saying “I have high expectations for this season and every season to be honest. We have a good group of first-year athletes coming in and a solid group of returners that have been working hard all year. We will definitely be young at some positions but more experienced at others than last year so it will be fun to figure out who we are as a team and what this group excels at.”
Coach Duarte-McDermott discussed integrating the newcomers to the team this year, he stated, “It takes time… but I believe in how we train each day of practice and think our specificity of training and attention to detail will hopefully make it easier for them to assimilate into our culture.” Coach Duarte-McDermott emphasized the importance of setting a tone early in the season, stating “ The easy answer is to say to win but besides that, I feel that if we can focus on our quality of volleyball that we play and instill a relentless effort, we will get better and build upon each set and each match that we play.”, he looks forward to the new season and coaching his team to success. Their home opener will be on September 10th versus Puget Sound in the WC Invitational.
Additionally, the Poets Men’s and Women’s Soccer teams start their seasons at the beginning of September. Although things didn’t go the way these players would’ve liked, the future looks bright for our young players. Second-year Layla Traylor looks to carry on the performance she had in her rookie season as part of the Women’s soccer team, which earned her Second Team All-SCIAC recognition. Our Women’s soccer team will have their first game of the season in their home opener when they face Lewis & Clark College on the 1st of September.
On the other hand, the Men’s soccer team plays their first game of the 2022 season when they travel to Westmont College. Second-year Lawerence Dydell stood out in his first year as a Poet. In his 2021 season, Dydell led the team with six goals over the span of their 15 games, earning himself Second team All-SCIAC. This year he looks to continue on and help lead the Poets to a successful year.
We all look forward to watching our talented sports teams go out and compete at the highest level, we are all rooting for them. Let’s go Poets!
Featured Image: Sage Amdahl / Quaker Campus