Taking a step back from the actual games themselves, 2017 was an exciting year for the Penn Athletics community.
There were several coaching changes in Penn Athletics in the past year. In a surprising turn, men's golf head coach Bob Heintz announced in late January that he was resigning from his post at Penn to take an assistant coaching position at Duke.
Just three days later, former Penn golfer Michael Blodgett was tapped as the interim coach for the upcoming season. Blodgett led the team to a fifth-place finish at Ivy Championships, a two-spot improvement from the previous year, but the highlight of the season was a second-place finish at the Yale Invitational.
But despite his success and the support of the team, Blodgett was not offered the head coach job at the end of the season. Instead, the job was given to Jason Calhoun, the husband of Athletic Director M. Grace Calhoun and former women's golf coach at La Salle. Their relationship prompted many questions about his hiring.
Penn volleyball entered the year with a vacancy at the head coach position following the resignation of Kerry Carr. But that too was filled quickly, as Katie Schumacher-Cawley was named the new coach in late February. Schumacher-Cawley came in with eight years of head coaching experience, and was a two-time All-American back at Penn State. She led the team to a 12-11 record, its first winning season since 2013.
The final coaching change in Penn Athletics came from wrestling. A surprise resignation from coach Alex Tirapelle paved the way for legendary coach Roger Reina to return to the helm of the program. Reina had previously coached the team for 19 years, and holds the program record for most wins.
Penn Athletics made a huge announcement in April, becoming the first Ivy League university to take the "It's On Us" pledge against sexual violence. The awareness campaign, which was launched by President Obama and Vice President Biden, is aimed at ending sexual assault on college campuses. The NCAA and 11 major conferences have also taken the pledge, but the Ivy League is not yet among them.
Athletes also spoke out about the topics that were important to them. Guest columnist and sprint football quarterback Zack DiGregorio gave everyone an inside look into the mental health struggles that many athletes deal with. Football captain Louis Vecchio detailed how the teams that athletes are a part of become like family. And women's basketball captain Kasey Chambers reflected upon the team's collapse in the NCAA Tournament and how it didn't define its season.
The Daily Pennsylvanian also embarked on a study of Title IX at Penn and the Ivy League, and found that while the Ivy League received the highest grade for women in the College Coaching Report Card, Penn itself had the lowest percentage of females coaching women's teams in the Ivy League at just 40 percent. Upon further investigation, it was determined that a number of factors contributed to this, including the discrepancies between individual and team sports, and the overlap of coaches in male and female programs.
From start to finish, Penn Athletics has made major waves off the field — and if these 12 months have been any indication, it'll be hard for 2018 to match.
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