They walk among us across the campus. They dine in our halls. They study in our lounges. You may distinguish some of them by sight; after all, they are much larger than the average WesKid, a presence at the gym and a scourge at Usdan.

Worry not, for though they may be huge, they are no different than you or I; they, too, write their Past on Film papers at the last minute, one sentence at a time. In fact, some of them are not so imposing in stature at all. Some blend in like so much vodka in a bucket of jungle juice—unquestionably strong, but indistinguishable if you’re not paying close attention. Until you see them in their elements, you may never guess they are some of the best athletes to call themselves Cardinals.

They are the ones who will fight for old Wesleyan on the pitch, in the rivers, and between the hash marks. I can’t say whether these are the athletes we need or the athletes we deserve as we quest for New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) dominance; I am no arbiter of justice or virtue. What I can say is that these people are really good at sports, and you should keep an eye out for them when the University gets back in action for the fall season.

Amber Bruckner ’14, Field Hockey

The field hockey team is looking to reload after losing much of its offensive punch to graduation. Wesleyan’s top three scorers accounted for 54 of field hockey’s 93 points last season, and they have all finished their collegiate careers. Bruckner took just 14 shots on goal last year, but as a captain and the elder stateswoman on the attack, she will be called upon to be much more active now. Looking back, this squad was at its best when it put pressure on the opposing defense; Wesleyan outshot its opponents by nearly 100 shots on the 2012 season.

In order to approach that statistic again, Bruckner’s leadership and production will be key, and she knows it.

“I want to compete at my best in both games and practice, and as a captain I want to inspire my teammates to play at their very best as well,” she said. “If together we accept nothing but our best, I think we will have a very successful season, and maybe I’ll be able to end my Wesleyan field hockey career as a NESCAC champion.”

Kayla Cloud ’14, Women’s Crew

Pat Tynan’s team made a big leap in his third year as coach, which was also Cloud’s third year rowing for Wesleyan. After posting consecutive losing records, women’s crew broke out with a 9-3 campaign in 2011-12, placing sixth in New England in the process. On top of that, Cloud received the highest individual honors of any rower when she was named a first-team All-American. But true to her sport and her position as captain, Cloud is focused on her team first.

“I guess like every team we want to win,” Cloud said. “And that’s really the objective this year, to be as fast and successful as we possibly can and to work harder than anyone else is willing to work both individually and as a group. It’s pretty much as simple as that.”

Kerry Doyle ’14, Women’s Soccer

No one is trying to replace Laura Kurash ’13. She was a three-time all-NESCAC honoree and finished off her career as conference Player of the Year. Her striking ability powered the Cardinals throughout her time on the pitch, and she will be missed dearly. Fortunately, Doyle is still around to create from the forward position. Now a senior captain herself, Doyle led Wesleyan with six assists alongside Kurash in 2012-13. That will be a vital contribution going forward; the team’s leading scorer may be gone, but it still has the ability to put the ball in position to shoot on goal.

“I’m really excited about how my team is looking this season,” Doyle explained. “We definitely have the potential to be quite successful, and I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to contribute to that success. Individually, I just want the last season of my soccer career to be one that I’m proud of. If I were to get all-NESCAC in the process, I wouldn’t hate it.”

Clare DuBrin ’15, Women’s Tennis

DuBrin came out of nowhere to become the top-seeded women’s singles player last season—and by that, I mean she came from Carnegie Mellon. The transfer was a great acquisition for a Wesleyan team going through growing pains. She notched four wins in singles play and another five as part of the number-one doubles pairing with Genevieve Aniello ’13; those nine victories are the most of any returning Cardinal. Now DuBrin is where she belongs and only getting better, giving the Cardinals some strong continuity with her leading the charge.

Kim Farris ’14, Volleyball

There’s nothing more exciting in volleyball than an emphatic spike, which makes Farris so fun to watch. She is already Wesleyan’s returning leader in kills, leading volleyball with 236 in 2012. Her fellow captain Monica Leslie ’14 converted her attempts at a higher rate last season, but Farris was the more prolific of the two. Leslie has a two-inch height advantage, which makes it easier for her to be pinpoint accurate with her kills, but Farris’ leaping ability gives her the chance to be really great with a bit more consistency.

Yet if Farris has it her way, her game will consist of more than just spikes.

“I really want to improve on diversifying my offense and continuing to improve on my defensive skills,” she said. “I think that the team as a whole has a lot of potential, and I hope that we will end up with a winning season.”

Kevin Hughes ’14, Football

Wesleyan features a run-first offense, but you have to be able to throw in order to maintain some balance. While the Cardinals haven’t had a great passing game under coach Mike Whalen, quarterback Jesse Warren ’15 will continue to target Hughes. Standing 6’4”, 230 pounds, he is officially listed both as wide receiver and tight end, a testament to his blocking ability when Whalen keeps the offense on the ground. But Hughes is also Wesleyan’s leading receiver from last season, compiling 419 yards and three touchdowns. If Warren can find him more often in the red zone, Hughes will put up a lot more points as a senior.

Danny Issroff ’15, Men’s Soccer

Due to a strange imbalance in the roster composition, men’s soccer returns only a single senior letter-winner. While Henry Karmin ’14 is the oldest Cardinal, more of the offensive burden will fall at Issroff’s feet. He finished second on the team last fall with nine points, working primarily to set up the talented Class of 2013 to score. Now much of the established frontline is gone, but as captain, Issroff knows he has to stick to his game and support those still around him.

“The team will look for me to set the tempo in midfield and create goal-scoring opportunities for my teammates,” he said. “We have a young team, so naturally a lot of responsibility will fall on my shoulders, but I feel like I’m ready for the challenge.”

Stephen Monk ’15, Men’s Tennis

In an even more severe case, men’s tennis has no seniors at all. Back when Jeff Legunn ’13 had a stranglehold on the top singles seed, there were questions about who would take over for him when he left. But in a shocking twist, Monk stepped up and usurped Legunn last season, giving Monk some much-needed experience both as a player and as a leader. Considering that his co-captain Sam Rudovsky ’16 is even younger, Monk will be essential to his teammates’ development.

“I’m incredibly excited for this season,” Monk said. “We have a really young, talented team. Because we have no seniors, we’re going to have a great opportunity to get to know each other and build chemistry over the next couple years. My only individual goal is to help us achieve our team goals of improving our national ranking and reaching the NCAA tournament.”

Noah Solomon ’15, Men’s Crew

Solomon is a staple in the men’s first varsity eight, helping last year’s boat row to its best finish at the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Regatta since he has been at Wesleyan. However, the eight that raced on Lake Quinsagamond last May has since lost both of its senior captains and its coxswain. Now Solomon is back as a captain himself, and his focus is singularly on the task ahead: the Head of the Charles, the marquee regatta of the fall slate.

“Placing better than our two main rivals, Trinity and Williams, at the Head of the Charles,” Solomon replied when asked about his goals for the season. “Along with that, medaling at the Head of the Charles, which would be the first time for the program in many years.”

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