As the student athletes slowly filled the auditorium, the dull roar of chatter was filled with camaraderie and an informal impatience.
The men were dressed in formal suit and tie, a big change from their respective sports uniforms. The women’s attire added a lovely professionalism to the event and also contrasted their usual athletic garb.
With the combination of cologne and perfume laced with an undertone of bubblegum and mirth, the students might have you fooled that their attention and curiosity was paid to anything other than the big shiny trophy at the front of the auditorium, and who might be this season’s recipient.
Once the room was full with student athletes and coaches, Deanna Tyson, associate dean for Athletics and Recreation, took the podium, and the Castleton College Winter Sports Awards Celebration began.
After a quick introduction, President David Wolk made his way to the front of the room to heap praise on the coaches and students for an accomplished winter season. Wearing the school’s colors, Wolk rattled off a few inside jokes and said this winter season has been one of the best he’s ever been a part of.
The ceremony then turned to the Academic Excellence award. Immediately the room went into a quiet competitive frenzy, with each team from each sport overheard hissing “It’s ours” followed by the occasionally audible “No way you’re going down!”
Tyson rattled off each team’s GPA for the season, with only one just barely below 3.0; men’s basketball at 2.98. The trophy’s winner was the women’s hockey team with a GPA of 3.330. Tyson said the GPAs for this winter season were the best she’s seen for winter sports.
After the main event, coaches took to the podium to give speeches about their students and colleagues. The coaches were proud, as coaches are. Injuries and defeats were lamented and were said to be used as learning experiences. Seniors were recognized for their four years competing in Castleton athletics and were rewarded with a special Castleton State blanket. Coaches also presented MVP awards to students from each team.
Tim Barrett, coach for the women’s basketball team, had reason to praise his team for having played to a 23-5 season.
Team MVP Jade Desroches was credited for helping secure victory in last month’s North Atlantic Conference Championship for a second straight year. To add to the women’s accolades, there was Meghan O’Sullivan, who along with Desroches, topped over 1,000 points this season and helped the team to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year.
The men’s and women’s ski teams were also praised for putting little old Castleton on the map in terms of competition. Although Coach Chris Eder said the men’s ski team started out slow this season, they ended up placing well in later meets and even matching foreign competitors from Sweden, Croatia and France.
One thing was quite obvious at the ceremony: Castleton State is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with when it comes to winter sports. While it can’t be said that every team had a stellar season, it can certainly be said that every team is working to solidify the pattern of consecutive improvement from season to season. This was not lost on Wolk.
“We have some unbelievable coaches. I would put our coaches up against any in the country, I really would,” Wolk said.