Penn Sports Plus: Roller Hockey Edition

mg_1565In this week's edition of Penn Sports Plus, we sat down with Parth Patel, the senior co-captain of the Penn Roller Hockey Club, to find out more about the team:

How long has the Penn Roller Hockey team been around?

Patel: We started back in 1995, so it’s been around for a while. There are a lot of people that I don’t know but the cool thing is that we have a pretty big alumni network and they stay on the listserv, so they’re around and you hear from them every once in a while.

The Philadelphia Collegiate Roller Hockey League was started by a guy named Brendan Brennan in 1998 at the Class of 1923 Rink. It was an invitational tournament, about a six or so team tournament. And from there they turned it into a league and it’s expanded to about 18 teams now.

We keep joking that the cup is named after him, it’s called the Brennan Cup, he started the club but in our 15 years Penn has never won it. We’ve got a shot this year, we’ve kind of snuck into the top part of the standings and everyone is joking around that this might be the year.

What initially drew you to play for the team?

Patel: I started playing because I liked hockey, but I think if you want to be part of a team that gets along, hangs out outside of the games and practices, I think this is a good club. The undergraduate group is pretty close, you have a lot of alumni, you have a lot of grad students and everyone is close and everyone gets along. We’re a fun, goofy group and we don’t take anything too seriously either. What drew me in is that you’ve got a team that you can still be a part of and play competitively but also have a good time and it’s not that structured. We have cool jerseys, too.

Do most players have previous roller hockey experience?

Patel: I think for a lot of players on the team, everyone watches hockey. We welcome all levels, so some students have played ice before, played roller before, played just street hockey before, maybe even played floor hockey or not had an skating experience. So we take everyone on, so we have a whole range of players.

Are there any big differences between roller hockey and ice hockey?

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Penn Sports Plus: Men’s Rugby

This week, we sat down with Doug Swift, an England native, and president of the Penn men’s rugby team, who discussed recent successes and the future of the fiercely competitve club sport.

How did you get into rugby?

Swift: So, I’ve been playing rugby since I was five, back in England. I played throughout Lower School, Middle School, and High School. After a gap year, when I realized I was going to come to America, I scouted out some of the schools I was applying to and it was an absolute bonus that Penn had a great program.

Being from England, most of the players that try rugby out in the States are football players or ex-football players. How do their skills translate in the game of Rugby?

Swift: There are certainly skills that do transfer over. But, you'd be surprised Americans are kind of wimpy. The tackle technique is more different than people give it credit for, and the fact that we don’t wear pads means that there is some adjustment. However, especially defensively the skills do transfer over.

So, you guys just played Brown this past weekend. What does your club look to do playing teams like Brown, Cornell, and Dartmouth who are more active in recruiting players?

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Penn Sports Plus: Penn Sailing

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

For this week's Penn Sports Plus, we're all aboard with Penn Sailing captain Jack Swikart as he tells us what his sport is all about.

How does one join Penn Sailing?

Penn Sailing takes new members at the start of both the fall and spring semester, since sailing is a two-season sport. Prior experience is great, but certainly not necessary - in fact most of our new members have little to no experience at all. We always have a booth at the activities fair and a website ( with contact info for the team if you miss the activities fair.

Where do you practice?

The team practices four or five days a week out of the Corinthian Yacht Club of Philadelphia, which is about 15-20 minutes by carpool from campus. It's an ideal place for sailing since the Delaware River is much wider than the Schuylkill, and gives us the room we need to maneuver.

What's the best moment the team has had?

It's tough to narrow it down to just one moment, but since I joined in the fall of last year, the best moment was beating out Cornell for the final spot in the 2011 Atlantic Coast Championships (the biggest regatta of the fall season). It really felt great to qualify for such a high-caliber event and have something to show for all of our effort that season.

Penn Sports Plus: Quidditch Edition


Jesse Mao/DP File Photo











The Daily Pennsylvanian was pleased to break out our broom sticks and have a chat with one of the captains of the Penn Quidditch team, Justin Bogart, who breaks down how the game has traveled from the skies down to earth.

Wait, playing quidditch? Don't you need magic?

Bogart: Funny you should ask this. Most people who first hear about quidditch actually wonder a similar thing but their response is usually in the form of ‘but your broom don’t fly’ or something of the like. Here’s a brief history of real-life quidditch or muggle (a muggle is a person that lacks any magical abilities) quidditch as it is typically known. Muggle quidditch was conceived at Middlebury College back in 2005 by Xander Manshel, who adapted the magical sport found in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, for, simply put, gravity. Instead of flying on brooms high above the ground, the seven group of muggles (three chasers, two beaters, a keeper, and a seeker) that comprise a quidditch team run around with brooms between their legs.

To emulate the act of flying, if your broom is removed from between your legs at any moment during the game it is as if you are “falling” from the air and as a result are temporarily “knocked out” until you run back to your sides hoops. However, most people wonder how the snitch, which in the novels is a small magical gold ball with wings that flies over the quidditch pitch, was adapted for our non-magical world. In muggle quidditch, the snitch runner is a cross-country runner who dresses in all yellow and has a sock with a tennis ball (the snitch) velcroed to his shorts. The seekers must then completely remove the sock from the snitch runner’s shorts in order to have ‘snatched the snitch.’

Just how physical and demanding a game is quidditch?

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Penn Sports Plus: Penn Chess Club

-by Christine Chen

Last month, the Penn Chess Club secured its third straight Ivy League Championship. In an email interview, Penn Chess Club President and Captain Zack Weiner explained some inner workings of the game and the tournaments.

 How did you get into chess? Did you ever take lessons?

Weiner: I got into chess like most kids, playing against my dad. Once I realized I was pretty good, I wanted to get better, so I started taking lessons in elementary school and my parents hired a coach for me in middle school. By the time I got to high school it was basically all self-motivated studying that got me to where I am.

What do you guys do in a typical meeting? Is it more going over strategies or playing chess itself? How frequently do you guys meet?

Weiner:  We meet every Sunday in Houston Hall at 2pm. Anyone is welcome to come. Most players come just to shake off the rust and play some games for fun. A lot of times we end up getting real into it and analyzing our games afterwards though.

How do competitions usually work? Is there a ranking system? 

Weiner: The way that team tournaments like The Ivy League Chess Championship work, is that you compete in teams of 4 and you are paired up by rating (In chess, the higher the rating the better. For example, I am about 2150, the best player in the world is over 2800.) So our highest rated player plays against their highest rated, our second highest against their second highest, etc. If out of the four games you have a score of 2.5 or better (a win counts as 1, a draw as .5), you win the match. The team with the best match results after 4 rounds wins the tournament.

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Penn Sports Plus: Women’s Ice Hockey Edition

posterThis week, we feature the one of the captains of the women's ice hockey team at Penn, Alyssa Eng, who takes us onto the ice and into her sport.
What drew you to women's hockey?
Eng: I played a little bit of pond hockey growing up, and always loved it though I never got into organized hockey. When I came to college I thought it would be a lot of fun to pick up. It's just a fun game, and I love skating.
How similar is it to the men's game?
Eng: Women's hockey, like many other sports with men's and women's teams, holds variations but are basically the same game at heart. I suppose the biggest one would be that there is no checking in women's hockey.
This year, the team has done very well, while last year was another story, when you played Division 1. Is the drop off of talent that big between D1 and D2, or has the team gotten significantly better since last year?
Eng: Our team has improved a lot this year, due to a great group of talented
girls who joined this year, in addition to building on a great team chemistry we had last year. Our team is very close, and I think that friendship helps us when we play. In addition, our team expanded from about 12 girls last year to about 24 this year, with many who had played throughout high school, though we did take beginners. This means we can field a full team every game, with many experienced players.
Two years ago we were in the D1 and did poorly, due to the size of the team being about 10 girls and without an experienced goalie. Last year we moved down to D2 and came in second, so we are always improving. I wouldn't say that the talent level is a huge drop off between the divisions, I mean there is a step up, but the schools in the D1 have more consistant hockey programs in terms of their size and talent. We are thinking of joining the D1 for next year as we now have the numbers and experience.
Walk us through a typical practice. What types of drills do you do? How exhausting is practice?
Eng: We practice twice a week. Tuesday mornings and Friday afternoons. We get out, stretch, do skating drills to warm up, warm up our goalies, and start to do drills, scrimmages, and games to fill the rest of practice. Each practice is different based on what the coaches think we should work on. Some days we focus more on breakout drills, others on shooting drills, and others on passing drills. I wouldn't ever call it exhausting, we try to keep in shape. Some practices are more intense than others. One of our coaches likes to skate us a lot more, but it's always a nice workout.
What's the best moment that you remember happening while you were on the team?
Eng: On ice, I would say when we beat Rutgers for the first time this year. It was an intense game, and it was very close for the first two periods. They were kind of our rivals from last year, and we lost to them in the finals, so it was great to get a win this year. Off ice, one of the girls on the team got a puppy this year, and she came to one of our games as our team mascot. It was amazing.
Finally, what would you say to someone who thinks hockey is just for guys?

Eng: I would say they should come to a practice and try it out! Assuming they were a girl of course. And in the wise words of the Spice Girls: Hi cee ya hold tight. Girl power. Zig a zig ahhh. Hockey is a great sport and so much fun to play. It really is for everyone.

Penn Sports Plus: Curling Edition

Curling at BGSU

This week, we feature Penn Curling Club President Elizabeth Shay, who breaks out the brooms and breaks down curling.

How did the curling club get started, and what does it consist of currently?

Shay: The curling club started a little over 10 years ago because there were students who had curled while growing up and wanted to continue the sport. Currently, we have about 10 people that show up consistently to practices as well as several others that stop in occasionally. Most of us never curled before college.

Why curling? It's not a sport that is on most American radars except during the Olympics.
Shay: Curling is a really fun sport that is easy enough to pick up that you can play a game in your first practice, but challenging enough that you can continue to improve your skills for the rest of your life.

Video from the Ms. and Mr. Penn Bodybuilding Contest

In case you missed it, here are a couple of videos from Wednesday night's Ms. and Mr. Penn Bodybuilding Contest. The first is of the Men's Short Class  posing as a group. Note women's track coach and organizer Tony Tenisci saying as he calls out the poses, "Let's show them what a diet can do."

Mr. Penn Short Class

The second video features the top three women of the Ms. Penn Tall Class, including the winner of the Tall Class title, Stephanie Green.

Ms. Penn Tall Class Top 3

Robert Pless and Erin Beck took home the titles of Mr. and Ms. Penn at the end of the night.

For more on the competition and the winners, check out my article in today's paper.

Penn Sports Plus: Jesse Spector

A few weeks ago, I interviewed former DP sports editor Jesse Spector about his time at Penn along with his thoughts on the ongoing NHL lockout. Spector also talked about his attempt to buy MLB’s Montreal Expos in 2002 and the national attention he received because of it. Below are more excerpts from our wide-ranging conversation.

via Twitter

On the timing of the NHL’s offer of a 50/50 split in Hockey Related Revenue (HRR) from mid-October:

Spector: I think it is really what the NHL was after all along, a 50/50 split. I think it was a proposal designed both to get negotiations going and to change the conversation after the news came out that the NHL was doing focus groups, not that it’s such a bad thing that a multi-million dollar corporation to be doing focus groups. But the way it was slanted PR-wise was that the NHL, instead of negotiating, was diddling around, trying to massage their message while getting [Political consultant and Penn graduate] Frank Luntz involved.

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Penn Sports Plus: Judo Edition

We’re excited to bring to you Penn Sports Plus, a new Buzz feature that spotlights people in the Penn Sports scene who don’t usually get much attention.  No current Penn athletics players or coaches will be featured in Penn Sports Plus, so we’ll have plenty of space for the unsung athletes and athletic workers at Penn.

This week, we feature the Penn Judo Club, with sophomore president Harry Robinson taking us down to the mat.

How did you get the Judo Club back up and running on campus?

Robinson: Well, the first thing I did was hold elections, which was interesting because I was the only member of the club at the beginning of the year. So for a while I was the official President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer of the club, which was pretty interesting. The first thing I had to do was find someone who was actually willing to teach, I'm not skilled enough to actually instruct, so I talked to my Sensei from where I used to do Judo in Bryn Mawr, P.A., he got someone he knew who was teaching at Drexel Judo Club to come to Penn a couple of days a week to teach us... after that it was just a matter of finding people to show up.

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