Maddy Mitchell / Gavel Media

The Freshmen Guide to 2020 - 2021 Boston College Sports

Welcome to Boston College!

Navigating the BC sports scene can be difficult on a normal year, but in the midst of a global pandemic where postponements and cancellations are the new norms for sports, it can be even more difficult as a newcomer on the Heights.

Maybe you’ve heard a little about BC sports from your friends and family, maybe you’ve been a superfan since birth, or maybe you just love the fact that our mascot is a bald eagle named Baldwin.

To make your freshmen year a little easier, we’ll give you a comprehensive guide to get the lay of the land before sports kick-off (mark your calendars for Sept. 19th!).

Disclaimer: We’re going to assume the season is operating as normal, but given the uncertainty surrounding college sports today, that may not be the reality (sadly).

1. Biggest Storylines to Follow

The New Normal

It goes without saying that both the collegiate and professional sports world will see dramatic changes to the way their game is played (if it is played, at all) as a result of the pandemic. How will athletic programs adjust to the mandated guidelines from the school and the NCAA? What procedures will they have in place to ensure that no outbreaks occur on their teams? What happens if there is an outbreak? This sports season will be anything but normal and we, as fans, will have to be prepared for that. 

Adios Addazio, Hello Hafley

As of December 2019, there is a new man at the helm for BC Football, and that man is Jeff Hafley. He is a former defensive coach at THE Ohio State University, a football powerhouse, and was brought in to replace former Head Dude and one of the most frustrating coaches in BC History, Steve Addazio. All Hafley asks of us is to “Get In,” which shouldn’t be an issue for a fanbase dying for an exciting team that can match up against heavyweight opponents like Notre Dame and Clemson.   

New Leader on the Heights

The beloved Athletic Director Martin Jarmond will surely be missed by BC students and alumni for his ability to bring BC back to national relevance. Jarmond hired successful coaches, built flashy new facilities, and generally reignited the interest in BC sports among the students, something that was sorely missed in years prior. Our new AD, Patrick Kraft, comes over from Temple University where he had the same position and will look to fill some big shoes left by Jarmond.

Coach on the Hot Seat

Ask any BC sports fan and they will tell you that men’s basketball is one of the more disappointing teams at the school and it starts with Head Coach Jim Christian. If it feels like he’s been here for eternity, well, he has; he’s been head coach since 2014 and hasn’t had one March Madness appearance or winning ACC season to show for in six years. This season will likely be his last unless he wins the national championship, which is as likely to happen as picking a Mod with a 9 pm pick time.

2. Players to Know

Phil Jurkovec (Football)

Transferring from Notre Dame, Phil Jurkovec has huge potential to be one of the best quarterbacks on the Heights since Matt Ryan, who led the Eagles as high as 2nd in the country. Yes, that actually happened!

Taylor Soule (Women’s Basketball)

Taylor Soule racked up the accolades last year on an immensely successful women’s basketball team, voted as the conference’s most improved player in 2019. Look for her to get even better next season with more experience under her belt.

Wynston Tabbs (Men’s Basketball)

When healthy, Wynston Tabbs is as great as any other guard in the ACC, but injuries have kept him down the past year or so. He is fun to watch, with his ability to score and make his teammates better, and BC fans would love to see him healthy and back on the court this season.

Hannah Bilka (Women’s Hockey)

Hannah Bilka is a flat-out star for this women’s hockey team, dominating the Hockey East Conference as a freshman last year. While the team wasn’t as good as year’s past, she is the future of not just women’s hockey, but all of BC sports.

Mason Pelio (Baseball)

BC Baseball (or Birdball, as we like to call it) has been quietly performing well the past two seasons and much of their success is because of Mason Pelio, a pitcher with an electrifying fastball and great command. Don't be shocked when you see his name in the MLB headlines in the future. 

3. Teams to Watch

BC Men’s Hockey

Last year, the men’s hockey team was arguably the closest out of any BC athletic program to a national championship – they had an overall record of 24-8-2, placing first in the Hockey East Conference and ranking fourth in the country. A healthy mix of returning youngsters (Alex Newhook, Spencer Knight, and Matt Boldy) and vets (Logan Hutsko, Pat Giles, Marc McLaughlin) sets the Eagles up well for next season and hopefully, still atop the standings.

BC Women’s Basketball

Coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee did a remarkable job turning around a program that struggled in a competitive conference. Like any other team, they suffered from the cancellation of sports back in March because they were on track to make their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2006. Despite losing stars Emma Guy and Taylor Ortlepp, the Eagles have some good incoming players as well as bringing back Soule, Makayla Dickens, and Cameron Swartz.

BC Women’s Lacrosse

Two years ago, the women’s lacrosse team was without-a-doubt the most successful program on campus. I mean, they reached the national championship THREE years in a row. Absolute dominance. While they graduated some of those key players during the championship run, they still had high expectations going into next season. However, while they only played seven games last year, they looked average at best. Can they get back to their championship form? This season will determine that.  

BC Field Hockey

Easily the most successful squad on campus in 2019, the field hockey team made it to the NCAA Final Four before losing to an undefeated UNC team. It was the best season in program history, setting record after record with their most ACC wins, first ACC title game appearance, and first Final Four appearance. This year, they return their top seven scorers including Fusine Govaert and Margo Carlin, but will look to replace former starting goalie Sarah Dwyer.

4. One Game to Watch - BC vs. No. 10 Notre Dame (Nov. 14) 

Unfortunately, the spring season schedules have not been released so we’ll give you a game to mark on your calendar for this fall. BC fans consider this a rivalry game, but I’m not sure the feeling is mutual in South Bend. The Fighting Irish have dominated the Holy War, as it's known to both fandoms, in recent years, but this year might look a bit different. The Eagles are a much better team this season (on paper) – they have a new head coach, flashy starting transfers, and one of the best offensive lines in the country. On top of it all, Jurkovec is facing his old team which should give him some motivation. In 2020, anything can happen so why not BC’s first win over Notre Dame since 2008?

5. Parting Advice

"Even though women’s sports at BC have been just as successful as men’s sports (maybe even more so, like Women's Basketball), attendance is still low for many of their games. Be sure to watch online every team this year so we’re ready for when fans are allowed back at games!"

- Emma Twombly 

"My biggest piece of advice to the freshmen is, when it is safe, to actually go to games. Every year, people pack the stands for the marquis games. Clemson football. BU hockey. Duke basketball. People often remember their experiences at these games as highlights of their BC experience. Yet, they rarely attend other games. Even without considering that BC is consistently an elite team in women’s lacrosse and men’s hockey and great in women’s basketball, these games are a great way to bond with new friends and make some unforgettable memories."

- Jake McNeil 

"People will say that some of their fondest memories on the Heights come from going to BC games, whether that be tailgating outside Alumni in the freezing cold or screaming chants in Conte at a hockey game. While the teams may not always perform the best and may drive you mad, going to games for all sports is an essential part of the BC experience, and looking back as a senior, I could not imagine my four years without it."

- Matt DeMerlis

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Matt DeMerlis