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                 by Curt Smyth
                                                                                                                                       Swimmer Ali Wagner ’09, Marine Science

                 Glancing at the women’s swimming roster
                 on the University of New England website, you notice the
                 Nor’easters have attracted student-athletes from all over                       of interest in me, which definitely helped me make my decision. Once I
                 the nation. Nine different states are represented, including                    visited with my family, I was like ‘yeah, I’m coming here’.” Wagner chose the
                 Maine’s bookend on the west coast, California. This may lead                    University of New England over four other schools located in her home state.
                                                                                                      Wagner knew at an early age she was interested in marine science.
                 you to ask why in the world someone would travel all the                        When she visited Sea World in San Diego with her grandparents at the age
                 way across the country to go to a relatively small university                   of six, she asked the trainers at the facility what she needed to do in order
                                                                                                 to do their job. Wagner was told she would really have to take a liking to
                 to study and play sports?                                                       the sciences. It is no coincidence that years later Wagner really enjoyed her
                                                                                                 science classes at Monrovia High, a school of more than 2,000 students and
                 Enter Ali Wagner ’09, a young woman who has made that journey,                  employer of her father, Mike.
                 and in the process, has found her niche as an accomplished student and               Her high school athletics career saw her participate on the varsity
                 integral member of the Nor’easters’ swim team. Here’s her story:                swimming and water polo teams in each of her four years. She was a
                      If first impressions make all the difference, Wagner may have chosen       captain in each sport and received numerous awards in both activities.
                 not be here today. Flash back to April of 2005. It was her first visit to            The transition to UNE was not without its ups and downs. “At first
                 UNE (as a high school senior) – her first visit to Maine, in fact, and it was   during my freshman year, I was terrified,” says Wagner. “People thought I
                 snowing. Snow in April is weather Wagner certainly was unaccustomed             was nuts to go to school so far from home. It made me grow up quickly.”
                 to back home in Monrovia, California, a city of approximately 40,000                 Because of the distance involved, Wagner is able to get home just
                 residents located 20 minutes east of Los Angeles. Yet, she knew UNE has         twice each year, during winter break and spring break. Her mother (Christy)
                 a strong reputation in her field of study – marine biology – and she had        has traveled here each of the last two seasons during the New England
                 been receiving recruiting calls from Kate Roy, the Nor’easters’ head swim       Championship, and this year will joined by her husband and son (Zachary, a
                 coach. So, she was not going to let an April snowstorm deter her from           high school senior).
                 attending a university in which she had a keen interest.                             Three years later, Wagner would have plenty to brag about if she were a
                      “I had no idea UNE even existed until October of my senior year,”          boastful person. She carries a 3.11 cumulative grade point average and has
                 Wagner reflects. “Once I found out how good the marine biology                  helped transform the swim team from a fledgling program to one that can
                 program was, I decided to apply right away. Kate (Roy) showed a lot             compete with some of New England’s finest. Wagner is the program’s career

      1 U N I V E R S I T Y O F N E W E N G L A N D |
Who is the person you look up to the most?
“Definitely my parents. My family has always been
there for me my entire life. They have given me
support when I have needed it and motivation when
those times called for it.”

                                                           S P O R T S U P D AT E S

                                                                                                                                          sports news
The rumor is your brother may attend UNE
after he graduates this spring. How would
that make you feel? “That would be great. We’re
really close, and we were always friends growing up.
My liking it here so much has certainly helped his                     Swim Team
interest.”                                                             The Nor’easters’ swim team posted a school-record 11 wins
                                                                       (just three losses) and placed 11th out of 21 teams at the New
What is your favorite event and why?                                   England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association
“100-yard butterfly. Most people cringe when they
                                                                       Championships. Ali Wagner ’09 placed in the Top 6 in three
hear the word ‘fly’. I’ve been swimming it forever.”
                                                                       different events at New Englands. Led by head coach Kate Roy,
What would you classify as your career                                 this program continues to turn heads at the regional level.
highlight thus far? “Being chosen (UNE) Athlete of
the Month (for November) was cool. My dad sent out
the website link all over campus (at Monrovia H.S.).                   Women’s Basketball
                                                                       The women’s basketball team placed seventh during the
What do you have in your iPod right now?                               regular season in The Commonwealth Coast Conference
“Ooh, lots of stuff. My brother and I have very eclectic               standings and lost to WNEC in the opening round of the
music tastes. Lots of AC/DC, though.”
                                                                       tourney. The Nor’easters had a huge win Feb. 12, defeating
                                                                       rival Endicott College to hand the Gulls their first league loss
                                                                       of the season. Alli Gamache ’09 and Katie Diggins ’10 were
                                                                       each named honorable mention all-conference.

leader in points earned (she should surpass the 1,000-                 Men’s Basketball
point barrier at some point this season), holds six pool               The Nor’easters experience a remarkable turnaround after
records at the Campus Center, and has earned all-New                   winning just five games a year ago. UNE came out on the
England status.
                                                                       winning side of the scoreboard 15 times and finished tied for
     Back in December at The Commonwealth Coast
Conference Invitational, Wagner won four individual                    third in the league standings. An opening-round playoff loss
events for the first time in her competitive swimming                  could not damper what was an outstanding season for the
career. Yet, she was quick to hand out credit for that                 Nor’easters, as the Nor’easters ended up earned the program’s
accomplishment.                                                        first-ever berth into the ECAC Tournament. Jaykyri Simpson
     “My times have improved dramatically since high                   ’09 was a first team all-TCCC selection, while Johnnie Jefferson
school,” she says. “I can’t say enough about how great
                                                                       ’09 was chosen to the second team.
the coaching is here…I knew all of my hard work had
finally paid off.”
     When asked about goals for the remainder of her
collegiate swimming career, Wagner quickly replies, “I
                                                                       Hockey Team
would love to make it to the NCAA’s. It’s been my goal                 After persevering through growing pains any new program
since my freshman year.”                                               would experience, the hockey team closed the season on a
     And after graduation?                                             high note with a pair of wins in its final four contests. The
     “I’ll probably go back to California,” predicts                   Nor’easters had a loyal fan following, including a crowd of
Wagner. “This summer I hope to get an internship at an                 nearly 500 students and parents at a Dec. 15 game versus
aquarium in Long Beach (California). Beyond that, I’m
                                                                       Endicott College. Thanks in part to Canadians Mike Roper ’11
really not sure.”
     Whatever she ends up doing later in life, she will                and Grant Gosselin ’11, head coach Brad Holt seems to have
probably look back at that snowy day in April and smile.               a solid nucleus around which to build his program.

                                                          S | Spring 2008 1
                                                                                    NEXU                 1

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