Student-Athletes Shape Memories for Priest

From the pool to the equestrian ring, Mount Holyoke teams have given longtime athletics director Laurie Priest two seasons to remember—from individual records in the pool, on the basketball court, and on the track, to flawless performances by horses and riders, championship wins, and numerous awards for student-athletes.

For Priest – who will step down from the director's position at the end of this academic year – the Lyons’ recent performances in part illustrate the memories she will cherish from Mount Holyoke.

"When I think back on my years at Mount Holyoke, I will remember our student-athletes the most,” said Priest. “I will certainly remember the team challenges and the big wins, but more than that, I think about the strength of character our athletes developed and the many ways that the sport experience transformed their individual lives.”

Among highlights from the winter season:

• The swimming and diving team broke 15 MHC records on their way to a fifth-place finish at the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championships in February. Cathleen Pruden ’16, the Lyons’ find of the season, won two races and set conference and meet records in the grueling 400-yard individual medley. Pruden was named by NEWMAC as its “Rookie of the Year,” the first time a Mount Holyoke swimmer has earned this distinction.

• First-year sprinter Camille Coklow ’16 became the first MHC athlete in nine years to compete at the National Collegiate Athletics Association indoor track championships. Coklow bowed out of her specialist event, the 60-meter, in the preliminary round, finishing thirteenth in 7.89 seconds. Earlier in the season, Coklow won All-New England honors at the New England Division III Championships.

• The squash team captured their seventh straight Seven Sisters Championship, led by the efforts of all-tournament team selections Randima Ranaweera ’14, Shaheen Madraswala ’14, and Kathryn Brummer ’13. During the season, team captain Brummer won the College Squash Association’s Wetzel Prize, which is awarded to the best senior women’s competitor who learned to play squash while in college.

• Senior guard Angelica Pascual ’13 recorded her 1,000th point as a Lyons basketball player on January 8, becoming just the eleventh player in the College’s history to do so. Pascual concluded her career with 1,194 points and stands third on MHC’s all-time points table.

• The spring season is well under way, and many are following the Mount Holyoke riding team’s march to the national championships. After winning its fifth straight Zone 1 championship title, the team will compete at Nationals, which will take place May 2–5 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

• The MHC dressage club team has also enjoyed a number of triumphs in Region B competition. At the final event of the regular season, MHC’s Bosco was voted “best horse” in Region B, team captain Rachel Berlage was named “highest-scoring senior” of the season, and Dee Loveless was voted “best coach” of the region. Mount Holyoke hosts the National Dressage Championships April 28–29.

Reflecting on the Lyons’ performances in the winter and spring seasons, Priest sees much more than points, medals, awards, or finals.

“At any one time, a quarter of the students on our campus competed as varsity or club sport athletes, and many of these students also played significant leadership roles on our campus,” she said.

“It is not surprising that they continue to be leaders in society and the world at large. I am most proud of the ways in which they used their sport experience to shape their lives to be the wonderful, action-oriented women they are today.”

The Lyons’ spring season is well under way: catch up with the latest results.