What I am looking forward to as a second-year UConn student

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With the return of most students to campus, the desire to attend a sporting event in Storrs has never been greater, especially coming off a year where most fans were not allowed at any sporting event. After a spring season where four teams (one of which is playing this fall) won a Big East championship and two more finished as runner-ups, UConn athletics are back.

This will be the first time I will experience a sold-out sporting event on campus. Since I was unable to experience the thrills of being a Huskies fan in person last year, here is what I am looking forward to in my second season, from the fall sports to the spring sports.

I look forward to seeing everyone’s faces light up when the Huskies score a touchdown. It could be a beautiful connection between quarterback Jack Zegriotis and either Cam Ross or Matt Drayton. It could be a burst of speed past the goal-line defense from running back Kevin Mensah. After a year off from playing games, these guys are ready to prove that all this hard work was not for naught.

I look forward to taking in the thrills of an intense 90-minute soccer match inside a renovated Morrone Stadium. I am ready to see preseason All-Big East team member Jessica Mazo light up the midfield for the women’s soccer team, which had a surprise run in last year’s abbreviated season. This year, it is going to be a contender for the Big East crown, and it has most of the conference’s number. 

I want the men’s team to try its hardest and improve off last year’s results. The return of head coach Ray Reid is going to improve team morale tremendously, while a large freshman class is going to add crucial depth to every single position. If all goes in their favor, the Huskies will add another incredible chapter to their sporting history.

I look forward to seeing the field hockey team continue to dominate the Big East and contend for a national championship after a quarterfinals loss to Louisville this past spring. Even with the retirement of Hall of Fame coach Nancy Stevens, this team is still a juggernaut and nothing is going to stop them from taking what is theirs. 

I am excited to see how the volleyball team performs this season, especially with the return of fans to Gampel Arena to help cheer on the players. Led by preseason All-Big East outside hitter Caylee Parker, they will be able to handle the pressure.

I am incredibly excited to see the dynamic duo of Azzi Fudd and Paige Bueckers take over the basketball court and run the show with the help of great teammates, such as Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Aaliyah Edwards, to name a few out of many. Can the return of fans in Gampel help bring the Huskies back to the promised land for the first time in six years? Hopefully.

I am very much looking forward to a strong freshman class in Rahsool Diggins, Jordan Hawkins, the reclassified Corey Floyd Jr. and Samson Johnson developing its talents on the hardwood. They will blend in nicely with core players such as RJ Cole and Tyrese Martin in what should be a critical and interesting fourth year for head coach Dan Hurley.

I look forward to seeing the men’s hockey team improve on one of their best seasons ever, where they snuck into the Top 20 and were able to host a home Hockey East playoff game. With the return of hockey to the XL Center and its fans, as well as a strong recruiting class, this team, led by All-American senior Jonny Evans, will be a sleeper team in the Hockey East conference as well as the nation.

I look forward to the women’s hockey team improving off last year’s somewhat surprising playoff run, where they beat Boston College for the first time in six tries all season and nearly beat No. 1 Northeastern. Led by captain Natalie Snodgrass and goalies Samantha Carpentier-Yelle and Tia Chan, this team will make offenses and defenses alike quiver in their skates.

I am looking forward to the response of the women’s lacrosse team after nearly winning their first ever Big East title last spring. Despite a hard-fought game with the Denver Pioneers, they were unable to come out on top, but they have the pieces to easily return to a finals game. One huge factor is All-American Sydney Watson, a senior last year. If she returns, then it is game over for most of the Big East.

I look forward to seeing both track and field teams break numerous records. You know the men’s team is in good hands when they broke the record for most events won at the Big East championship (12), and most points obtained in that same meet (294, second place finished 168 points behind that). The women’s team will look to take the final step after losing the championship lead on the final day of the championship meet. With most pieces coming back, the Huskies will give the Villanova Wildcats a hard time.

I am excited to see the baseball team, led by head coach Jim Penders, compete for the opportunity to at least host an NCAA regional tournament on the road to the College World Series. Although losing former commit Frank Mozzicato to the Kansas City Royals hurts, stars like Christian Fedko and Reggie Crawford will bring a lot of energy and talent to a team that will continue to dominate the Big East.

Trying to stream games last year via the UConn website, SportsLive or other websites was difficult; with the ability to go see the games in person this year, the atmosphere is going to feel very different. It won’t be a quiet field where the only sounds heard are the commanding shouts and aggressive movement of the players, or the coaches yelling on the sidelines. Instead, it will be filled with cheers and chants and life.

For all students, especially freshmen, welcome to UConn Huskies athletics. This year is truly going to be a special one for all of UConn’s teams. You do not want to miss a single minute of the action, because many of these teams are going to be contending for Big East titles and national championships.

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