Categories
Featured Columns Featured Posts sports&fitness

Railers Lace Up Their Skates For Another ECHL Campaign

Eric Casey

As the leaves begin to turn and the air becomes crisp, the Worcester Railers Hockey Club are warming up the boilers for yet another season! 

Following in the footsteps of former Worcester hockey franchises like the Worcester Ice Cats (1994-2005) and the Worcester Sharks (2006-2015), the Railers look to continue their dual mission of developing young professional hockey players while also entertaining the Worcester community on and off the ice. 

The Railers will begin their quest for the Kelly Cup against the Adirondack Thunder on October 21st, at 7:05PM in a newly renovated DCU Center. The arena received a number of upgrades during the off-season, including the replacement of nearly all of its 15,000 seats. 

Now in their sixth season, the Railers Hockey Club continue to play in the third tier ECHL as an affiliate of the New York Islanders. 

Butler Departs, But More Locals Join

When the Railers take the ice for the first time this season, they’ll be without Bobby Butler, a familiar face for the past two campaigns. A former NHL player and three-time AHL All-star, Butler originally came out of retirement to assist the Railers when they were short on players due to COVID during the 2021-2022 season. After claiming a goal and two assists in his first game back, he decided to sign a full contract with the team. He later returned for the entirety of the 2022-2023 season, providing the young squad with valuable veteran leadership.

Butler’s two year stint with the Railers was the final chapter in a long professional career that included stints in the NHL with the Ottawa Senators, New Jersey Devils, Nashville Predators, and Florida Panthers. The early days of his hockey career included time at nearby Marlborough High School, where he led the team to a state championship in 2005. 

Butler also played for Team USA in the 2018 Winter Olympics. He will remain with the team as the Director of Hockey Operations for the Junior Railers HC team.

While the end of Butler’s playing days left the Railers with some big skates to fill, the team has been busy at work in the off-season making a number of player acquisitions. New faces on this year’s squad include forward Myles Abbate, a former Plymouth State University player who is originally from Norwell, and defensemen John Copeland, a former Boston University Terrier who hails from Wellesley. 

While fans are sure to be excited about some of the new faces on the squad, the re-signing of forward Jack Quinlivan is perhaps the most joyful news of the off-season. The 27 year old Shrewsbury native and University of Maine graduate was away from the team for most of last season following a papillary thyroid cancer diagnosis.

“I’m super thankful for all of the support I’ve gotten from my team of doctors, my family and friends, the entire Worcester Railers organization, the Worcester Railers Booster Club, and my Maine hockey family,” Quinlivan said in a press release issued by the team. “The recovery has been awesome, and I’m feeling great. I’m excited for another opportunity to compete for a job with the Railers.”

The team will be once again helmed by Coach Jordan Lavallee-Smotherman, a former Railers player who is originally from Westborough. Lavallee-Smotherman led the team to a 34-34-4-0 record in his first season in charge, leaving them in fifth place in the North Division and just three points outside the playoff picture.

The Railers last made a playoff appearance during the 2017-2018 season. If they do end up bringing home the cup this year, they would become the first professional hockey team in the DCU Center’s history to win a postseason championship. 

Excitement On And Off The Ice

In addition to the excitement of the on-ice goals, body checks and occasional fisticuffs, the Railers have another jam packed promotional schedule planned for this season. Fans can head over to their website (www.RailersHC.com) to see the full list, but here are some of the highlights (subject to change):

  • Opening Weekend. Kicking the season off with back-to-back home games, the Railers will host a pre-game block party before the game on 10/21 to celebrate the return of hockey, while Sunday’s game (10/22) will be the team’s first ever Multicultural Night.
  • Good Causes. The Railers have previously used their platform to bring attention to a number of important causes, and this year is no exception. Hockey Fights Cancer Night (11/4) will feature special tribute jerseys and a charity game between the Bruins Alumni and the Why Me All Stars, a group of players raising money for the titular charity. Other charitable endeavors will include the annual teddy bear toss on Mental Health Awareness Night (12/9) and a night to raise money for the Jake Thibeault Foundation (2/9). 
  • Fun For the Kids. In addition to a special Election Day game (11/7) to give kids something to do on a day when many schools are closed, the Railers are also bringing back School Game Days (11/29, 3/13) which have early morning start times to accommodate field trips from area elementary and middle schools. Beyond these school-focused events, other kid-friendly programming includes Princesses and Pirates Day (1/14) and Wizarding World of Worcester Night (3/2), a special tribute to Harry Potter. 
  • Honoring Other Sports and Teams. This year’s calendar also includes a number of tributes to the region’s rich sports culture, beginning with a celebration of the New England Patriots (11/17). This will be followed with a night to honor local sports legends (1/6), and the return of Ice Cats Night (1/13), WooSox Night (3/3), and Worcester Bravehearts Night (3/29). (As an added bonus for millennials, Ice Cats Night will also double as 90’s Night.)
  • Theme Nights and Other Highlights. It just wouldn’t be minor league sports without a bunch of theme nights, and this year’s Railers schedule doesn’t disappoint in this department either. Some of the highlights include 70’s Night (12/1), as well as Country NIght (1/12) and the return of the popular Star Wars Night (1/27).

Tickets for Railers games can be purchased at the DCU Center box office or at the team’s website. Fans who are looking to follow along with the action from home can catch games on the radio via 98.9 Nash Icon or streaming at FloHockey.com

Categories
college Featured Posts sports&fitness

College Sports Round Up

Eric Casey

Athletic fields on college campuses are coming to life across Worcester as we head into the 2023-24 academic year. Here are just a few teams that local sports fans should keep their eyes on as we head into another season of NCAA action!

Holy Cross: The Talk of The Town

While dozens of collegiate sports teams across Worcester are getting geared up to start their seasons, one squad is clearly leading the city in hype: the Holy Cross football team. 

Last year, the Crusaders compiled a perfect regular season and made it all the way to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs before losing to eventual champions South Dakota State in the quarterfinals. In 2023, they’ll look to build off that success while attempting to earn a fifth consecutive postseason bid. 

Holy Cross has ten returning all-conference players from last season, including senior quarterback Mathew Sluka. Last year, Sluka was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award –  which is awarded to the best offensive player in the FCS subdivision – and he’s ranked 5th among all-FCS level quarterbacks heading into 2023. 

Known for his ability to score with his legs as well as his arm, Sluka rushed for 1,234 yards last season – the most of any FCS-level quarterback. 

While the Crusaders have a ton of returning firepower, they’ll need all the help they can get against what should be a challenging schedule. There’s a ton of potential great matchups on their schedule this year, but the game that has everyone talking is the Edward Bennett Williams Holy Cross Football Classic at Polar Park. 

The third annual edition of this contest will once again see the baseball diamond be transformed into a gridiron, as the Crusaders face off against the legendary Harvard Crimson on Saturday, September 30th at 5pm. 

While the football team is getting most of the attention over on The Hill, Crusader fans should also keep a close eye on the women’s basketball team; they compiled a 24-9 record last year on their way to a Patriot League championship and an NCAA tournament bid. 

Assumption Looking to Add to City’s Hockey Scene, Continue Football Success

It should be noted that Holy Cross is no longer the only college in Worcester that fields at least one Division I team, as the Women’s ice hockey program at Assumption University will begin playing in the D1 New England Women’s Hockey Alliance conference starting this fall. 

The Greyhounds begin their season against Rochester Institute of Technology at the Worcester Ice Center on Friday, September 29th at 6:50pm. 

Moving from the ice back to the gridiron, it should also be noted that the Assumption football team had a successful season last year. The Greyhounds compiled an 8-3 record in the regular season, before losing in the first round of the playoffs to Slippery Rock University (yes, that’s a real college). 

They’ll hope for another playoff berth this year as they kick off their 2023 campaign at Brian Kelly ‘83 Stadium in Worcester on September 2nd against Kutztown University (which I also swear is a real school). 

Division III Teams Making Worcester Proud

Worcester’s Division III schools also deserve some love. The men’s basketball program at Worcester State is looking to have another successful season after going 22-6 and making the NCAA Division III tournament in 2022. 

Meanwhile, the women’s soccer program at Clark University is looking to build off of last year’s 12-6-2 record that saw them fall just one game short of a tournament bid. 

There’s certainly no shortage of college athletic action to check out in Worcester during this upcoming academic year, so be sure to head to a particular school’s athletic website to find full schedules for your sport of choice. 

Categories
activities also in issue college cover story dining entertainment Featured Posts night out sports&fitness

Welcome to Worcester Class of 2027: Come on in The Worcester is Wicked Fine

Irena Kaci

Another year, another influx of budding adults: Worcester’s incoming first years is part of what keeps our city current and alive. We at Pulse are here to give a helping hand and a guide to what newly minted adults might enjoy and engage with in their various locales. 

If you’re coming into Worcester via Clark University, congratulations on joining the ranks of the city’s humanitarians, activists and artists. Nestled in Main South, Clark University is committed to seamlessly integrating the local community with student led missions. I spoke with recent graduate Brett Iarrobino, whose volunteer work during his undergraduate years included refugee assistance, and after school help to elementary school children. “St. Peter’s Church does homework for elementary school students. They pair you up with one or two different kids. It was a very cute way to engage and get some face time with some residents. Another volunteer spot was Main Idea Youth and Arts Nonprofit. Worcester Refugee Assistance Group also is a great place to volunteer. They are very active with the Korean, Afghan, and Burmese populations.”

Volunteering in the community is not the only way to engage with Main South. Just around the corner from campus there are several small eateries with a smorgasbord of multicultural offerings. “Formerly Acoustic Java, the new coffee shop nearest campus is now called Belen’s Casa De Pan, and it is a delicious Salvadorian bakery. The new owner is a former Clark University graduate herself. Further down, there’s Hacienda Don Juan. It’s a lunch and dinner spot with $1 pupusa for students.”

Emma Couillard completed both her BA & MA through Clark’s 5th year free program and had her own recommendations and fond memories to impart. “Right near campus, there’s Saigon as well as Mint. They are both Vietnamese cuisines but totally different vibes. Saigon is more casual and lunch, whereas Mint is over by Worcester Pizza Factory, and hosts a lot of college-student friendly events, such as trivia and karaoke. They also offer a lot of good deals for students. On campus, I loved the Hillel-run Midnight Bagel Events. It is exactly what it sounds like: Bagels and schmear at midnight, as a study break. One great place to know about on campus is the Traina Center. It’s a bit off to the side right on Park Avenue, but they host a lot of great events, including a small museum in the bottom floor, which runs exhibits of local artists, both students and non-students.” 

Mint Kitchen and Bar’s Big Mint Platter

If you’re coming to Worcester via WPI, congratulations on joining the ranks of the future engineers, problem solvers, and having the unique experience of Greek Life while on campus. WPI has the distinction of being in the most ‘trafficked on foot’ part of our city, and is packed to the gills with dining and activity options. 

Right on Highland Street, there are various WPI student frequented haunts like Thai Time, and the Bean Counter Café. The Bean Counter is well known around these parts for their delicious vegan and gluten free baked goods. An easy place to sit down and get some work done, The Bean Counter also boasts one of the most active and current bulletin boards for local events. 

A few doors down from both these spots is Taqueria Del Pueblo, a lively food stand turned restaurant, offering affordable lunch and dinner options for students and faculty alike. Not far from campus there is also Worcester’s most beloved dive bar, Ralph’s Rock Diner. Ralph’s offers the grittiest Worcester, served with a side of 90s grunge.  For students looking to unwind with punk rock or poetry, Ralph’s offers Slam Poetry nights on Mondays, and a smattering of local shows throughout the month.

If your interests are a bit more board game oriented, you’ll not want to miss the city’s Nerd Mecca a.k.a. That’s Entertainment. That’s E! hosts weekly Magic The Gathering, DnD, and more. It’s an easy walk through historic Elm Park, where the latest installation of ‘Art in the Park’ will enliven your stroll.

That’s Entertainment! on Park Ave.

If you’re coming to Worcester by way of Holy Cross, congratulations on joining the ranks of elite athletes, young go-getters, and entrepreneurs. Holy Cross is a mini universe of its own. You’ll have to drive a bit to get off campus, but fret not because even on campus there is plenty to do. From Cool Beans, the on campus coffee house offering a social space to meet and collaborate, to the Seelos Film House, offering exclusive features, your cup will be full. 

Should you choose to venture off campus, you will be less than two miles away from BirchTree Coffeehouse, one of the city’s most renowned and architecturally beautiful coffee houses and bake shops. They make some of the city’s best pizzas on Wednesday night and they offer student discounts. Situated right beneath BirchTree is the Crompton Collective, the gateway to Canal District’s most charming section. Local vendors, handmade goods and the biggest flower shop in town (Seed to Stem) await your perusal. To make a day of it, round the corner and take in a game of America’s pastime at Worcester’s own Woo Sox Ballpark, Polar Park. 

Polar Park

If you’re coming to Worcester by way of Assumption, congratulations on joining the ranks of tomorrow’s healers, organizers, and entertainers. Congratulations also on having, in this reporter’s humble opinion, the most picturesque campus. You will be happily situated equidistantly to both the city and the countryside, with ample options on either end. A short drive from campus on Salisbury Street, and you will find the Worcester Art Museum, one of our more prized locales offering tours, classes and so much more. If you’re looking for more of the same, not far from the WAM there is also ArtsWorcester, a small gallery that packs a big punch. If you’re looking for some communing with nature, it will be easy to head in the opposite directions to hit up Moore State Park or the Cascades for a rigorous and very autumnal experience. Looking for coffee shops, there are quite a few within the mile radius, including Espress Yourself, a small European style café. Just up the street, there is Root & Press, if you’re looking for a more collegiate atmosphere. Root and Press does double duty as both bookshop and coffee/lunch spot. You can dine in or al fresco and pick up your extracurricular reading all in one trip. 

If you’re coming to Worcester via Worcester State, congratulations on joining the ranks of local juggernauts who may or may not know Worcester just as well as I do. Worcester State’s campus and campus offerings are perhaps the most successfully intertwined with the local community, giving anyone who isn’t a local, a chance to blend in with ease. Located right on Chandler Street, one of Worcester’s thoroughfares, Worcester State students are very centrally located. 

I spoke with recent graduate and current Assistant Director of Conferences and Events, Caitlin Kincaide for some insider tips.  “My friends and I really like to try different places to eat, weekends or afternoon free time. If it was lunch and we wanted to study and do homework we would go to Nu Kitchen, The Mercantile, or the Boynton. We also went to a place called Blackstone. They do ‘flights’ of everything there, so you can try different menu times. On campus, there is usually one Halloween related fair, filled with Halloween activities. Also, in September, they bring a mini-farmer’s market on campus for a big health fair.” 

Nu Kitchen

To caffeinate, I would recommend the newly established Worcester Sweets, which serves the best Colombian coffee around, in an atmosphere that I can best describe as Barbie-core. While lunch spots are aplenty, I want to give a special shout out to Nu Kitchen, which is a well worn WSU hangout, always offering exactly what is needed. But within a stone’s throw, there are several options including Nancy Chang’s for a mom and dad sit down dinner, and Sushi Miyazawa, a surprisingly delectable hole in the wall. Make it a triple feature and stop into Tidepool Bookshop for the latest poetry reading, or book launch and you’ll feel like both a college student and a Worcesterite in no time.

Even though Worcester boasts the title of second largest New England City, we do not suffer the congestion of some of the bigger cities out there, and therefore all of these options are easily available. For this reason, it makes sense to set up a central list of Worcester 101, listed below:

Bars:

While I understand that most first-years are unlikely to need this advice right away, it never hurts to plan ahead. Worcester is fortunate to boast a long list of breweries, and beer gardens. 

Not least among them, is the Worcester Beer Garden (64 Franklin Street), offering beautiful open air dining, with a luxurious twist. You’ll forget that you’re not across the pond in some of their fantastically luxurious seating options. 

Blue Jeans Pizza (270 Park Avenue) is another collegiate spot that just invested in their own beer garden, and it does not disappoint. Located in a rather heavily trafficked corner, you’ll get the most Worcester vistas, while enjoying a slice and maybe (someday!) a cold one. 

My personal favorite brewing spot is Greater Good Brewery (55 Millbrook Street) offering both casual indoor and outdoor dining. 

And last, but not least, because BarbieCore is having a moment, Femme Bar, Worcester’s answer to the gay bars of yesteryear. Featured on their very ‘on theme’ menu you’ll find sparkling wine on tap, and a can of ‘gay beer’.

Restaurants:

Worcester has too many to name, but I’d like to mention those that might go easy on a college student’s budget the most. 

First up Fantastic Pizza (910 Main Street) has the best falafel wrap, at the most reasonable price but they have pizza and mozzarella sticks too. While you wait for your order, you can play the old timey Galaga machine that still takes quarters inside. 

Or, head off to George’s Coney Island Hot Dog (158 Southbridge Street) for a classic at a reasonable price. It’s not just the hot dogs, but also the turn of the century time capsule atmosphere that’ll make you think fondly of your college years. 

Shawarma Palace (20 Franklin Street) downtown offers the absolute best shawarma around, at lonely a fraction of the usual price. 

And, lastly, if you’re looking for Vietnamese cuisine, Da-Lat (425 Park Avenue) goes easy on your wallet while absolutely pummeling your taste buds.

Events/Activities: 

Worcester offers countless ways to spend the time, but I’d like to mention a few under the radar and perhaps uniquely Worcester options for newcomers to explore. 

I have never lived anywhere else where I could watch wrestling live, and it’s all thanks to Wrestling at the White Eagle (116-120 Green Street). Every Thursday night at 8pm, any interested parties can see wrestlers from all over New England duke it out with impunity. 

If you’re jonesing for old school vibes and 90s era arcades, do not miss out on Materia Machina (116a June Street). The owners are a dedicated duo, looking to bring the same joy of coin-operated games to the residents of Worcester. But wait, there’s more. Just a couple of doors down, its sister business, a budding ‘video store’ and event place is shaping up to be a hub for local news, and local politics. 

If you’re a cinephile, you will do well to explore the Elm Draught House Cinema (35 Elm St., Millbury). It is a small but hearty presence, with the goal of keeping art house movies alive and on the big screen. 

Last, but certainly not least, if you’ve ever thought you might write the great American novel, give the Worcester Writers’ Collective (20 Franklin Street at the JMAC) a chance. Their weekly Tuesday night meetings include a small but plucky band of artists, writers, and thespians looking to be a part of your journey.

So there it is, the Worcester of 2023. It will surely change and be changed by countless forces, and congratulations again on being part of our history and part of that change.

Categories
also in issue Featured Posts sports&fitness

Three New Sports Discoveries

Shaun Connolly

While every summer brings a new hope to our year. It has warm weather, vacations, longer days and of course plenty of sports. There will always be the mainstays of summer. There’s the NBA Finals, the Red Sox, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, there’s always a big soccer tournament (this year being the Women’s World Cup), and of course Wrestlemania. But sometimes, there are just slow weeks of nothing doing for sports. We find ourselves scrolling DraftKings to spice up a Reds vs. Cubs doubleheader, or staying up late to watch cornhole on ESPN 3. Here are some of my own discoveries while trying to fill the sport-less hole in the middle of July. 

Major League Cricket

This is honestly such an exciting sport. The big thing is grasping the rules. I understand that we as Americans don’t like learning new things or adapting to others culture but trust me, this is pretty awesome. I bet you didn’t even know there was a Cricket League in the U.S. Well there is. That honestly was the big gap for me trying to get into the sport. If I wanted to watch a match I would have to watch it at like 3 AM as it streamed from Agra, India. Well now, we have it here with teams in Houston, Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington DC, San Francisco and New York. How could you not want to root for the San Francisco Unicorns? For just $55 a year you can watch Major League Cricket live on WillowTV. You spend more on coffee in a month. I recommend you drink less caffeine and get your jolt from watching fast-paced American Cricket.

Professional Disc Golf

Folks really like to diss this one, but I don’t understand it. They say it’s dorky. You’re telling me real golf isn’t dorky? They say it looks easier. I insist as one who has been trying to play more this summer it is not, I apologize to all of the trees I have hit head on. This is a riveting sport of skill, touch and so many highlights. The women’s and men’s divisions each have plenty of breathtaking holes in ones, trick shots and seemingly impossible outs from strange angles. You can get a subscription on YouTube to watch their matches live, but you can also just head on up to Leicester to Maple Hill Disc Golf Course and watch one of their majors live and in person. I went last and will be going again this September and it will be something to behold. 

College Baseball World Series

The NCAA for a long time has figured out how to market and sell both college football and basketball very well. This country has made their games a huge part of their betting, spectating and partying habits. The College Baseball World Series that occurs in Omaha, Nebraska each year, had one of its most entertaining tournaments to date. We saw some of the top players at the collegiate level face off against each other. We saw upsets from tiny little schools and collapses from giant, endowment heavy universities. LSU ended up winning the whole thing pretty handily as they had the number 1 and number 2 draft picks in this MLB Draft, but not without its hiccups and battles on the road to their defeat of Florida University. With transfer student being able to move more easily between schools, the MLB Draft lessening the amount of rounds they have to 20, collegiate baseball is going to be a lot more competitive and therefore a lot more entertaining. 

While you most likely missed the College Baseball World Series. You still have a shot to catch cricket and disc golf. I highly recommend that you do. There’s only so many times that the Red Sox can break your heart, mend it with a disc golf ace from behind a giant elm tree.

Categories
Featured Columns Featured Posts sports&fitness

The Do’s and Don’ts of Mascot Interaction

WooSox Mascots (Smiley Ball, Roberto the Rocket, and Woofster the Wonderdog)

Shaun Connolly

With the warmer weather hitting us, the NBA and NHL Playoffs in full swing, the golf majors on their way, the US Tennis Open around the corner and the UEFA Champions League final barrelling towards the end I can’t help but think of one thing: minor league baseball mascots. 

As I have written before I was a professional mascot for a decade. It was my campus job while I was in college and then later as Twister for the infamous Worcester Tornadoes. In college, I didn’t just do football games and basketball games. Our women’s volleyball team went to the National Championships twice while I was enrolled and our wrestling team won a National Championship. But I attended softball, baseball, fundraising walks, elementary school spree days, and new business ribbon cuttings. I got crowned Homecoming King, as the mascot mind you, because the students were being reprimanded for over-partying. I have endured a lot of different climates while dressed up like a furry bear and the worst of the worst is a humid July day game for 3,000 pre-adolescent campers.

The heat, plus the suit (which does not breathe well), plus the hot breath of 50 kids asking for a picture or a hug or an autograph is already panic inducing. Then, at the end of a half inning, the PA starts blaring the Spongebob Squarepants theme song and those thousands of kids are screaming every word. They are all buzzing from sugar and excitement and then their favorite show’s theme song comes on. The hundred that I am surrounded by are pulling and tugging and screaming and crying. One kid was just jumping up and down on my foot and two others jumped on my back trying to see who was inside their beloved Twister. My heart races reliving this moment to you now and I hope you don’t endure anything like it. 

So as you head to a game or two or five this summer, here are 5 tips to help you and your local mascot can each enjoy America’s pastime:

  1. Do not pull on tails, ears, shirts, hats, or any other extremity, apparel or body part. 

This kind feels like a no brainer, like it’s how you should live as a human being, but especially for a mascot they don’t have the periphery and quickness that most humans do. They are pretty vulnerable and do not want to be touched despite their resemblance to a plushy. (side note one a drunk man tackled me and my mascot head rolled down the left field line, when security asked him why he did it and he responded saying, “I thought there was more cushion in there.”

  1. Do not yell into the mouth and ask who is in there.

Have I ended up meeting a very beautiful girl this way and end up making out with her in the woods during a kegger? But that sad occurrence is the best possible situation. Most times the person inside there is just smelling your dehydrated breath.

  1. Do not let your kid hang out with a mascot.

While most mascots do get CORI checked, they are still people who are working and not babysitters so you can get drunk at the game. Our job is entertainment, not entertaining young children.

  1. Know that the mascot is probably not smiling when you take a photo.

They’ll pose with you, but they don’t have to like it. Especially if any of the first three things have already happened.

  1. If the mascot is heading to their break, let them have their break. 

The mascot will be back. They need this. They need the water, or to cool off or just punch a pillow because you were driving them a little crazy. It can get claustrophobic in there and if one more person just taps their shoulder while they are having a panic attack, they may just snap.

Let’s go WooSox, let’s go Bravehearts, “let’s go” to any team in the area that you go see. You’re there for the game, the amenities and the mascot. This column is dedicated to any and all, but  especially Jake the Lion and all of the Red Sox mascots. 

Categories
also in issue college entertainment Featured Columns Featured Posts night out sports&fitness

Let’s Go Bravehearts

Jenny Pacillo 

I think we can all agree that Worcester has changed a lot in the last decade, from basically everything about Kelley Square to new restaurants seemingly popping up weekly, but there has been one constant: the Bravehearts. I had the opportunity to speak with the Bravehearts Director of Fan Experience and Media, Donny Porcaro Jr, about their upcoming tenth season, and there is a lot to get excited about.

DONNY PORCARO JR., BRAVEHEARTS DIRECTOR OF FAN EXPERIENCE AND MEDIA

“This is our 10 year anniversary. I think that that is the number one thing that we’re focused on with the Bravehearts this year because, especially in the city of Worcester, we look at that as a pretty big accomplishment,” Porcaro begins, “We’re thriving right now, which is awesome. One thing that’s really cool about this franchise is it seems like every year there’s a different storyline. Over the last two years, there has really been this resurgence of the Worcester Bravehearts and kind of new school model that we’re really excited to bring to the city where it’s a lot more entertainment focus, you know, we still have great baseball and a lot of the stuff that we do is fan focused.”

The Bravehearts season will officially begin on Wednesday, May 24th. “We’re calling it opening morning, it’s going to have the same vibe in the same atmosphere. You’re going to see players doing crazy things, you’re going to see players go up in the crowd and sign autographs with the kids, maybe put on a funny costume. Fans are going to get that crazy, funky Braveheart style,” Porcaro says. Opening night on Friday, May 26th also promises to be a game fans won’t want to miss. “We’re going to have a lot of alumni there. It’s going to be a big celebration not only from the player side of things, we will have players from 2014, 2015, 2016, really every year, but a big thing that we’re going to honor is the people that have been with us for ten years, the sponsors, our partners and our groups who continue to come back year after year,” Porcaro says.

Of course all your favorite events from the Bravehearts 2022 season will be back, including Fans Choose the Rules. “The people who saw it last year were like, ‘we need to go back and see what’s going to be the rules this year and see what craziness they can do this year’”, Porcaro laughs. Fans can look forward to  Home Run Derby after every Sunday home game, “It gives fans an experience that they’re not going to see anywhere else.” This also includes a “Design Your Own Jersey” promotion in partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital. The Bravehearts will provide the kids with blank jerseys that will all be worn on their July 23rd homegame. The Saturday Night Live Concert Series, where bands will be performing under the tent during the home game. Of course there’s Friday Night Fireworks and All You Can Eat Tickets with access to a private concessions stand too.

The most unique promo of all is for anyone with a Bravehearts tattoo. “If you have a Bravehearts tattoo, you get season tickets for life,” Porcaro says, estimated there are about twenty hardcore fans who have them. “We definitely love all of our fans that have the tattoos and it’s pretty awesome to have them shown at the ballpark. If you pull up his sleeve, Jake the mascot, actually has a city of Worcester tattoo on his arm.”

Celebrate the Bravehearts 10th anniversary all summer long at Fitton Field, and maybe even consider getting a new tattoo.