June 25, 2014
LAST CHANCE TO SHINE: Princeton High football star Liam Helstrom heads up the field in action last fall. Helstrom starred on both sides of the ball for PHS, grabbing 50 receptions for 853 yards and seven touchdowns at receiver and making 110 tackles with four forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery from his linebacker spot. Helstrom’s heroics earned him a place on the West team for this year’s Sunshine Classic all-star football game, which is slated for July 1 at The College of New Jersey.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

LAST CHANCE TO SHINE: Princeton High football star Liam Helstrom heads up the field in action last fall. Helstrom starred on both sides of the ball for PHS, grabbing 50 receptions for 853 yards and seven touchdowns at receiver and making 110 tackles with four forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery from his linebacker spot. Helstrom’s heroics earned him a place on the West team for this year’s Sunshine Classic all-star football game, which is slated for July 1 at The College of New Jersey. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As a wiry 130-pounder toiling for the Princeton High freshman football team in the fall of 2010, Liam Helstrom didn’t appear to be on the path to becoming one of the best players in the county.

But under the influence of then — PHS varsity coach Joe Gargione — Helstrom committed himself to becoming a physical force.

“Coach Gargione was religious with the weightlifting and the work,” said Helstrom, who moved up to the varsity as a sophomore, playing at tight end and defensive end.

“If you missed one workout he would get on you. As a freshman I went to every weightlifting session. I went from 130 to 160 pounds as a sophomore to 180-85 pounds. It was a lot of red meat and whole milk
and a lot of lifting.”

Last fall in his senior campaign, Helstrom, who grew to 6’2 and 190 pounds, lifted his game to lofty heights, grabbing 50 receptions for 853 yards and seven touchdowns and making 110 tackles with four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Helstrom’s heroics turned heads, earning him a spot on the West team for this year’s Sunshine Classic all-star football game, which is slated for July 1 at The College of New Jersey.

While PHS struggled to a 0-10 record last fall, Helstrom’s intensity never wavered.

“It was tough but since I knew I wasn’t going to be playing in college, I had the mindset to play every game like it was my last game,” said Helstrom, who is headed to Clemson University where he plans to study political science and attend a lot of big-time college football games.

“I knew we wouldn’t be a powerhouse. The year before, some of the seniors had quit. I was still going to have fun no matter what.”

Helstrom enjoyed moving to wide receiver last fall after playing tight end the previous two seasons.

“Offensively, it was back to backyard two-hand touch where everyone is a receiver,” said Helstrom, who enjoyed some big games at the end, making seven catches for 71 yards against WW/P-S, eight receptions for 185 yards and two touchdowns against Trenton, six catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns against Lawrence, and five catches for 149 yards and a touchdown in his finale against Marlboro. “I was stronger than the defensive backs.”

Helstrom’s strength came in handy at linebacker as well. “Defensively, I was the only guy that was going to make some of those tackles, especially after Sam (star linebacker Sam Smallzman) went out,” said Helstrom, who had 11 tackles and 2 forced fumbles in the WW/P-S game. “I was tackling guys 5-10 yards down the field.”

While Helstrom didn’t get to taste victory in his final campaign, he made fans out of his foes.

“I got a lot of respect from the other coaches, telling me that I was playing hard and that I was a leader,” said Helstrom.

Earning respect among his peers, Helstrom recently won the Bob James Award, which is given to the senior male or female athlete who best represents the highest aspirations of PHS athletics.

“There were a helluva lot of good senior athletes so that was the most important football award I won,” said Helstrom.

One of the highlights of Helstrom’s athletic career came in his junior season when his older bother, Carl, and younger brother, Rory, both played on the football team.

“It was a lot of fun, even the practices were a lot of fun, watching Rory go against Carl,” said Helstrom. “You talk about teammates being brothers but there is nothing like playing with your real brothers.”

Helstrom is excited to be getting the chance to go at it one more time on the football field.

“I thought it was awesome; I have been looking forward to it since I was a sophomore, seeing Alex Mitko and those guys play in the game,” said Helstrom, reflecting on getting chosen to play in the Sunshine game.

“It will be the last time I put on a helmet and shoulder pads and hit someone. It is humbling, it will be like sophomore year, I will have to prove something. I know a lot of those guys are really good.”

Having grown into a brilliant two-way performer, Helstrom has already proven he is a very good player.

WHITE WATER: Rena White, left, pulls hard in the stroke seat earlier this month for the Mercer Rowing Club women’s youth varsity 8 at the USRowing Youth Nationals with coxswain Noa Rothstein urging her on. The Mercer boat took fifth in the grand final at the competition on Lake Natoma near Sacramento, Calif., becoming the first women’s boat in club history to make the ‘A’ final in the open 8 category.

WHITE WATER: Rena White, left, pulls hard in the stroke seat earlier this month for the Mercer Rowing Club women’s youth varsity 8 at the USRowing Youth Nationals with coxswain Noa Rothstein urging her on. The Mercer boat took fifth in the grand final at the competition on Lake Natoma near Sacramento, Calif., becoming the first women’s boat in club history to make the ‘A’ final in the open 8 category.

Rena White was proud to see her hard work pay off last season as she competed for the Mercer Rowing Club.

“I was just more serious, focused, and fitter,” said White, who originally joined Mercer in the spring of 2011 as an eighth grader.

“I was doing extra conditioning. In the winter, I was doing 5-7k on the erg (ergometer) before practice and 12k on the erg on Wednesdays when we have half days. I also started rowing in pairs. I am not the biggest runner but I was doing more of that. I was on the lightweight 8 and we took 3rd at nationals.”

But as Princeton High junior White came into the 2013-14 season, she and her boatmates wanted to take things to a higher level.

“We decided to make the jump into the open weights,” said White. “We got a new girl from Hun, two of the novices stepped up and a girl came over from another club.”

Earlier this month, the boat stepped up big time, taking fifth at the USRowing Youth Nationals on Lake Natoma near Sacramento, Calif., becoming the first women’s boat in club history to make the ‘A’ final in the open 8 category.

For White, shifting
position in the boat helped the crew go into overdrive.

“I was 7th seat all spring and then was moved to stroke before the regionals,” said White, who was joined in the boat by Beatrice Sclapari, Caitlin Cleary, Kate Hickey, Kelly Fischer, Badia Shehab, Hayley Bork, Alex Natale, and coxswain Noa Rothstein.

“It was tough, it was a challenge. It was good to be able to set the rhythm for the boat but it is definitely a lot of pressure.”

The Mercer 8 proved it could handle the pressure collectively as it cruised to victory in mid-May in the Mid-Atlantic Junior Championships to qualify for the nationals.

“At regionals, we won by open water,” said White. “It was a really good piece, our best race of the year to that point.”

In the weeks leading up to nationals, White could feel the boat gaining even more speed.

“We were putting up really good splits,” said White. “Our coach (Ted Sobolewski) wasn’t sure if it was tailwind or our lake. Everything started coming together and we really started going for it.”

Starting the nationals in style, Mercer took second in its first heat, trailing only eventual champion Oakland Strokes.

“We were in a really good place, everyone was really focused,” said White, reflecting on the race in which the boat clocked a time of 6:48.596 over the 2,000-meter course with Oakland just ahead in 6:47.389. “We did well enough in that heat to go straight to the semis; that was really helpful.”

In the semis, the boat placed second to secure a spot in the grand final and a shot at a national title.

“Our coach said before the final that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and to leave it on the course,” recalled White.

While Mercer finished fifth in the final, White has no qualms with the result.

“We didn’t expect to medal,” said White in assessing the race which saw Mercer come in at 7:18.051, less than six seconds
away from a bronze medal.

“We surpassed expectations by making grand final. We have four lightweights and looking at the other boats, we saw how much smaller we were. It was not our best race but we were excited to be in grand final.”

In White’s view, the boat’s balance was a key factor exceeding expectations. “We are all pretty fit; we are all in the same place,” said White. “No one is really ahead or behind.”

In her senior season, White will be looking to lead the way as she was elected as a co-captain of the Mercer girls’ squad.

“That was really exciting,” said White, who also won the Mercer girls’ most valuable rower award.

“I want to lead by example and do the best I can everyday. I want kids to realize that whatever shape they are in, they can get good and have fun.”

After enjoying the ride to Lake Natoma this spring, White is looking to have even more fun next year.

“We have seven of nine people on the boat coming back; we are excited but it requires a lot of luck to make it to grand final,” said White, who is looking to row at the Division I level after high school.

“We know that because we made it this year, that doesn’t mean we will make it next year. We all want to be the best boat we can, everyone is focused.”

DEUTSCHLAND: Alex Deutsch takes a cut in recent action for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team. Former Hun School standout, and Middlebury College-bound, Deutsch has given Post 218 a lift in his first season with the club. Last Monday, centerfielder Deutsch went 3-for-3 with a two-run triple to help Princeton beat Hopewell Post 339 8-4 in eight innings and improve to 2-5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DEUTSCHLAND: Alex Deutsch takes a cut in recent action for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team. Former Hun School standout, and Middlebury College-bound, Deutsch has given Post 218 a lift in his first season with the club. Last Monday, centerfielder Deutsch went 3-for-3 with a two-run triple to help Princeton beat Hopewell Post 339 8-4 in eight innings and improve to 2-5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With two men on base in the third inning last Saturday against Hamilton Post 31, Alex Deutsch came through for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team.

Centerfielder Deutsch stroked a liner to center to knock in a run, sparking a four-run rally.

“I had seen him in my first at-bat; I walked when he threw me 4 balls and I knew he was going to come with a fast ball,” said Deutsch, reflecting on his approach in that at-bat. “I was looking for the fast ball over the plate and I hit it over the middle.”

Unfortunately for Post 218, the four-run outburst came after the team had dug an early 12-0 hole on the way to a 16-4 loss.

With Princeton having dropped several nailbiters in the first two weeks of the season, the rally was an encouraging sign.

“It’s funny because that is what we needed the entire season,” said Deutsch, who graduated from The Hun School earlier this month and was a co-captain and starting centerfielder for the Raider baseball team this spring.

“We have gotten one or two runs here or there and then we had one big inning when we were down by 12 runs. I think it was more that we were just playing loose.”

After an uneven senior season for Hun, Deutsch has been coming up big this summer for Post 218.

“I have been hitting really well,” said Deutsch, who went 3-for-3 with a two-run triple last Monday to help Post 218 beat Hopewell Post 339 8-4 in eight innings and improve to 2-5.

“I wasn’t consistent over the course of the season for Hun. I have had a hit every game so far with this team. I had a big hit yesterday (an RBI double in a 3-1 win over North Hamilton).”

The Middlebury College-bound Deutsch is enjoying playing his first season with Post 218. “I did all the showcase and the travel stuff the last couple of years so I wanted to play for my town in the last year,” said Deutsch.

“It is fun; it doesn’t get better than playing with a bunch of guys from your town.”

As he heads to Middlebury this fall, Deutsch is looking forward to playing with a new bunch of guys.

“Definitely the playing in the NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) is a huge thing, it is so competitive,” said Deutsch.

“It is great athletics balanced with academics. When I visited and went up there, it just felt right, they always talk about the cliché moment when you walk on campus. I also love the guys on the team; they have had a rough last couple of years so I am hoping to go up there and help turn things around.”

Post 218 manager Tommy Parker loves having Deutsch on the squad. “Alex has been a great addition, he really has been a catalyst,” said Parker.

Parker is hoping that the four-run rally on Saturday could be a catalyst for his club going forward.

“That is something we can build on, these guys are capable of doing that,” said Parker. “There is no quit in them. You don’t lay down, you just keep pushing and things will happen.”

While the lopsided loss to Post 31 was disappointing, Parker doesn’t believe it is an accurate reflection of his team’s quality.

“We have been playing a lot of close games; we are a much better team than we showed here today,” maintained Parker.

“These guys are as talented as anyone in the league. We have had some really tough ones. The bats are beginning to come alive and that has really been the difference in the games that we haven’t won; we haven’t been able to get the offense. The pitching has been excellent. It will turn around; I can say that.”

In order to turn things around, Post 218 needs to display a mental toughness.

“What I think they need to do to get over the hump is to just have the old school mentality of putting them away when you get up,” said Parker, whose team plays Broad Street Park Post 313 on June 27 at Nottingham High, hosts Trenton Post 93/182 on June 28, Robbinsville Post 530 on June 29, and then plays Lawrence Post 414 at Eggerts Crossing Park on June 30 and faces Ewing Post 314 on July 1 at Moody Park.

“It is learning what true swagger is and having the confidence that when you are down, you are never out until the last strike or the last out. We have 21 more games to go and I have seen things turn around before. Last year, we made a push and this team is better than that.”

Deutsch, for his part, believes Post 218 can make a push. “We are a good hitting team, it is going to come along over the course of the season,” asserted Deutsch. “I honestly can tell you that I have not seen a team that we can’t beat.”

LYNCH-PIN: Atticus Lynch of the Princeton Little League Intermediate Division all-star team races to first base last weekend in the District 12 Intermediate (50/70) tournament. With shortstop Lynch providing plenty of offensive punch, Princeton rolled to the championship round of the double-elimination competition with three straight convincing wins, topping Cranbury 10-0 on Thursday, Millstone-Roosevelt 17-2 on Friday, and defending champion Bordentown 11-1 a day later.

LYNCH-PIN: Atticus Lynch of the Princeton Little League Intermediate Division all-star team races to first base last weekend in the District 12 Intermediate (50/70) tournament. With shortstop Lynch providing plenty of offensive punch, Princeton rolled to the championship round of the double-elimination competition with three straight convincing wins, topping Cranbury 10-0 on Thursday, Millstone-Roosevelt 17-2 on Friday, and defending champion Bordentown 11-1 a day later.

Coming into the District 12 Little League Intermediate (50/70) tournament last week at Farmview Fields, the Princeton squad had to scramble.

“The team was put together 10 days ago,” said manager Jon Durbin. “We started practicing the day after the team was announced so we had six practices as a team.”

While the squad didn’t have a lot of time to prepare, it was able to apply the perspective it gained last year from its first appearance in the Intermediate tourney which utilizes a modified baseball field using a 50-foot pitching distance and 70-foot base paths and is open to players ages 11-13.

“With a year of experience we learned a lot strategically in putting together the team and handling the pitching,” said Durbin.

“Last year we were young, we had only one 13-year-old. This year, we have five 13-year-olds, six 12-year-olds and two 11-year-olds. We are an older, more mature team.”

Showing its maturity and skill, Princeton rolled to the championship round of the double-elimination competition with three straight convincing wins, topping Cranbury 10-0 on Thursday, Millstone-Roosevelt 17-2 on Friday, and defending champion Bordentown 11-1 a day later.

Princeton is slated to host Bordentown on June 24 in the finals and would earn the title with a victory. A loss by Princeton would set up a winner-take-all finale on June 25.

In Durbin’s view, the team’s hot play is due, in part, to a selfless mentality and a heightened emphasis on defense.

“There are two things we have been really focusing on in practice,” said Durbin.

“One is getting all the guys to buy into the team and doing whatever the team needs. It doesn’t matter where you bat or what position you play. They are all in. We are doing extended fielding in practice. We have them doing the same amount of time in the infield as in the outfield so if they are called on to play a position that they are not familiar with, they will be more comfortable.”

Princeton developed a comfort level in the opener as pitchers Akira Nishiu, Jackson Rho, and Atticus Lynch combined for a no-hitter with Lynch and Eli Okoye each getting two hits to spark the offense. Lynch supplied the power in the win over Millstone-Roosevelt, going 4-for-5 with two homers, four runs, and two RBIs.

The combination of timely hitting and superb pitching has made Princeton a force to be reckoned with.

“Atticus has been on fire at the plate and has been playing a terrific shortstop,” said Durbin. “Okoye has been hitting well as has Tommy Reid. Nishiu and Rho have been pitching really strongly.”

Princeton’s strong start along with some sparkling glove work made the difference in the win over powerful Bordentown.

“When we saw Bordentown last year, the guys were thinking they are so big, how can we be on the same field with them,” said Durbin.

“Our confidence was higher this year after the two wins and we were able to push back after they took the lead in the first inning. We had some good defensive plays that put a lid on a couple of potentially big innings. We are not afraid of Bordentown and that is 75 percent of the battle.”

Durbin expects his players to keep battling with the title on the line. “If the boys are still fired up, still focused, and not getting overconfident, we should keep playing well,” said Durbin.

WARMING TO THE TASK: Adam Oresky warms up before a game this past winter in his senior season with the University of Hartford men’s basketball team. Oresky, who played for the Princeton Day School varsity boys’ hoops team from 2008-10, is currently making an impact for King’s Pizzarama in its debut campaign in Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. Last Wednesday, the 6’8, 200-pound Oresky scored a team-high nine points to help King’s defeat Tortuga’s Mexican Village 49-40. On Monday, he chipped in six points as King’s topped Northeast Realty 41-34 to improve to 3-1.(Photo Courtesy of University of Hartford Athletic Communications)

WARMING TO THE TASK: Adam Oresky warms up before a game this past winter in his senior season with the University of Hartford men’s basketball team. Oresky, who played for the Princeton Day School varsity boys’ hoops team from 2008-10, is currently making an impact for King’s Pizzarama in its debut campaign in Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. Last Wednesday, the 6’8, 200-pound Oresky scored a team-high nine points to help King’s defeat Tortuga’s Mexican Village 49-40. On Monday, he chipped in six points as King’s topped Northeast Realty 41-34 to improve to 3-1. (Photo Courtesy of University of Hartford Athletic Communications)

During his career with the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team, Adam Oresky was a member of the supporting cast.

Although Oresky, a 2010 PDS grad, didn’t crack the starting lineup in his two years on the Panther varsity squad, he was determined to play basketball in college.

Heading to the University of Hartford, Oresky sought to walk on to the school’s Division I hoops program.

“I tried out my freshman year but I didn’t make it,” said Oresky. “I had to get better; I had to keep working.”

Oresky put in the work and his dream eventually came true as he made the squad as a senior, getting into seven games last winter for the Hawks.

“I always loved playing basketball and just playing in the gym everyday and getting workouts,” said the 6’8, 200-pound Oresky, who noted that he was a rail-thin 165 pounds during his PDS days. “I just stuck with it and I was able to get a spot on the team.”

Last Wednesday, Oresky showed how much his game has progressed as he helped King’s Pizzarama top Tortuga’s Mexican Village 49-40 in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League.

Scoring a team-high 9 points, Oresky helped King’s overcome a 28-27 halftime deficit as they pulled away to the victory.

“We just want to go out and have a good time and see what happens,” said Oresky, who helped King’s start the second half with a 14-0 run that changed the tone of the contest. “Playing defense made the difference, getting stops on defense and turning that into offense.”

Oresky is looking to make a difference for King’s with his inside/out play.

“I shoot if I am open,” said Oresky, who scored six points on Monday as King’s topped Northeast Realty 41-34 to improve to 3-1 in its debut campaign in the summer league.

“I also go and crash the boards and get some rebounds inside. I do a little bit of both so I don’t get locked into one role.”

With King’s showing balance as nine players scored in the victory over Tortuga’s, Oresky believes the team can do some damage this summer.

“We have got a full bench, it is nice having subs when you get tired and everybody gets to play,” said Oresky, noting that former PDS teammate Kenny Holzhammer invited him to join the King’s squad. “I think our chemistry is getting better and we can make a run at it later.”

June 18, 2014
FAREWELL ADDRESS: Gary Walters speaks at a press conference during his tenure as the Ford Family Director of Athletics at Princeton University. Walters, who announced last September that he was stepping aside, will be on the job until June 30, at which point he will have been Princeton’s athletic director for exactly 20 years.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FAREWELL ADDRESS: Gary Walters speaks at a press conference during his tenure as the Ford Family Director of Athletics at Princeton University. Walters, who announced last September that he was stepping aside, will be on the job until June 30, at which point he will have been Princeton’s athletic director for exactly 20 years. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Despite the seemingly idyllic scene as he lounged in his backyard a few weeks ago on Memorial Day, casually dressed in a t-shirt and shorts with birds chirping overhead and the pool gleaming in the sun nearby, Gary Walters felt something was out of place.

“I believe in my 20 years in Princeton, this is the first Memorial Day that I haven’t been at an event,” said Walters, the school’s Director of Athletics since 1994. “In many years, it was lacrosse. You could have track, you could have crew.”

As Walters reflected on his successful run at the helm of Princeton Athletics, he acknowledged that he had to track a multitude of issues.

“When you look at the athletic director’s (AD) role here, as I like to say or observe, other than the presidency, I don’t know of any other position at Princeton that intersects with the students, the faculty, the staff, the alumni, and the community,” said Walters, 68.

“This position is at the intersection of all of those constituencies on campus and so it is one of those jobs that is a 7-day-a-week job and, in particular, the role of social media has made the job even more difficult obviously.”

While being in that vortex can be disconcerting, Walters has thrived in the role.

“On the one hand, it is daunting,” said Walters. “On the other hand it is fun too because it is intellectually challenging. There is never a dull moment but you are also developing a comprehensive portfolio of skills because of the multi-faceted nature of the job. Candidly I have enjoyed that, that is the essence of what management is, and then the most important thing is sustaining change over a period of time.”

Walters welcomes the changing of the guard in his post as former Tiger hockey and soccer star Mollie Marcoux ’91 was named in April to succeed him, becoming the first woman to hold the AD job.

“I am absolutely delighted that Mollie has been appointed,” said Walters. “She obviously has had a distinguished student athlete career at Princeton. She represents the balance we seek as it relates to the hyphen connecting student and athlete. Mollie is going to have a learning curve but she is surrounded by very, very good people. The senior administrative staff is solid. The administration, staff and  coaches are all outstanding people and so she is going to inherit, I think, stability, competence, and people who care about their job and love their job. This is after all athletics and the athletic world is a calling because we are student-athlete centered and my people are.”

It didn’t take long for Walters to start his learning curve upon assuming the AD post.

“I was walking over to the first press conference and Kurt says to me Gary I have been asked to share with you this fact, Palmer Stadium has some really significant structural issues, it is basically falling apart, all the engineering reports said that, so if you get any questions about the football stadium, try to tap dance around them,” said Walters with a laugh. “Can you imagine that?”

Palmer Stadium was razed and the facility that ended up being constructed on Walters’ watch stands as an extension of the campus that is designed to be integrated into the daily life of the University with a north end containing large openings that serve as windows to the campus just up the hill. It also fulfilled the marching orders Walters received when he took the helm.

“When I came here, I got a distinct charge from the president and the trustees and that was to strengthen the relationships between the athletic department and, in particular, the academic side of the house,” said Walters. “I feel very good about the initiatives we took to do that.”

Taking that charge to heart, Walters created the Academic-Athletic Fellows program and the Princeton Varsity Club and coined the phrase “Education Through Athletics,” which has become the mantra for Tiger sports program.

Walters was uniquely qualified to bridge the gap between athletics and academics. A son of a welder who came to Princeton from blue collar Reading, Pa., Walters became the point guard for the school’s legendary 1965 Final 4 team and was featured in 1967 on the cover of Sports Illustrated with teammate Chris Thomforde.

In the classroom, Walters graduated with a BA degree in psychology. As an undergraduate he co-authored, with psychology professors Marvin Karlins and Thomas Coffman, a study entitled “On the Fading of Social Stereotypes: Studies in Three Generations of College Students,” which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1969.

“I played on a basketball team with three guys, one guy who got a Rhodes scholarship, Bill Bradley, and two guys that were Rhodes Scholar finalists, Larry Lucchino and Chris Thomforde, just think of that,” said Walters, who went on to serve as a basketball head coach at Middlebury, Union, Dartmouth, and Providence and an assistant at Princeton before going into business and working at Kidder, Peabody & Co., Woolf Associates Sports Management, and Seaward Management. “In addition, there were guys who went to Harvard Business School, law school, and so on.”

For Walters, teamwork is the key to success on and off the court. “In the athletic world, what differentiates it is that the coaches and players take their exams in public and they take it together so people keep score; there is accountability,” said Walters, whose personal scorecard includes 220 Ivy League championships and 47 team or individual national titles during his tenure.

“Competition is part of a continuum and the other end of that continuum is collaboration. Unless you have teamwork and people working selflessly for each other, you are not going to be successful and every team I have been on, the assist has always been as important, if not more important, than the person who is scoring the goal. So my takeaway as I now complete a significant arc of my life and career is never forget that success in competition is almost always the outcome of the collaborative experience that people share.”

Walters has enjoyed experiencing his victory lap, even though his last few months on the job have been a whirlwind.

“It’s been a roller-coaster for sure, it is like being seated in a centrifuge which has ironically gone faster and faster,” said Walters.

“One would have thought it would have decelerated and a lot of that has to do with the celebratory function, for sure. Some of it has to do with the fact that in this job you always have unguided missiles that are coming your way so that tends to keep you occupied.”

One of the grander celebrations took place in April when Princeton held a “Roast and Toast” to Walters at Jadwin Gym.

“The nice thing about that night were the various threads of my life that were represented,” said Walters, who received a number of gifts that evening to add to the treasure trove of photos and mementos cramming the walls of his upstairs office in Jadwin.

“To see 600 people there was truly remarkable. I enjoyed the evening immensely, how could you not, since I was being recognized for my years of service to the university, but I never got a chance to savor it. I always had two or three people in front of me during the reception.”

As he steps aside, Walters isn’t straying from the university that he loves.

“I am going to have a small office in Dillon; I’ll have a computer and I will be operating on a volunteer basis,” said Walters, who was recently granted emeritus status by the Board of Trustees.

“I’ll be far enough away that I am out of Mollie’s hair but close enough that she can call me if she wants to. I am still so engrossed with this job. Everything that is out there when I step aside is sketchy. I was just recently appointed to the board of a publicly held company. I am probably going to get involved in one or two charitable things. In addition to that, I have to figure out other things; do I want to coach, do I maybe want to do some writing, do I maybe want to do some TV work. Those are all open items.”

For Walters, being in the middle of campus holds a special significance. “Princeton is defined by pathways and intersections,” added Walters. “As a result, you get a chance to see everybody every day and thus broaden the reach of friends that you have. You are not defined by the rectangles of a city.”

In Walters’ view, sports has a unique broadening effect on its participants.

“People who compete in athletics are having a sociological experience as it relates to the roles and norms of the team and the understanding of how all of the functions and pieces fit together,” said Walters.

“But is also a psychological experience where it tests you when you are confronting adversity and where you have to evaluate yourself and look yourself in the mirror. As far as I am concerned, those are aspects of athletics that are not fully understood.”

As a result, Walters believes that those co-curricular aspects merit recognition in their own right.

“Were I a president at a liberal arts school, I would give an athlete who plays for four years academic credit for that experience,” asserted Walters with his voice rising.

“It is the sweatiest of the liberal arts. It is not only in terms of time, but the reality is that what you learn through osmosis in that experience translates directly into the organizational challenges that you will face in the real world. You are basically learning leadership and organizational behavior.”

Applying those lessons over the last 20 years, Walters deserves credit for providing a brand of leadership that has enhanced Princeton’s mission to provide education through athletics.

LATE SHOW: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Kevin Halliday heads upfield in action this spring. Senior midfielder Halliday’s late-game heroics helped PHS edge Allentown 11-10 in overtime to win its second straight Mercer County Tournament championship. Halliday scored the tying goal in the waning seconds of regulation and then tallied the game-winner in overtime. The Tufts-bound Halliday had 54 goals and 19 assists in his final campaign as PHS posted a record of 16-4.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

LATE SHOW: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Kevin Halliday heads upfield in action this spring. Senior midfielder Halliday’s late-game heroics helped PHS edge Allentown 11-10 in overtime to win its second straight Mercer County Tournament championship. Halliday scored the tying goal in the waning seconds of regulation and then tallied the game-winner in overtime. The Tufts-bound Halliday had 54 goals and 19 assists in his final campaign as PHS posted a record of 16-4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Kevin Halliday isn’t one to give up easily.

With the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team trailing Allentown 10-9 with seconds remaining in the second half of the Mercer County Tournament championship game, PHS senior midfielder Halliday visualized a happy ending.

“When I came over to the wing, I was like oh god if I could get a goal right here, it would be a highlight play,” said Halliday.

The ball came to Halliday’s side and he scooped it up and sprinted to the goal and made the highlight play he envisioned, burying the ball in the back of the net with 4.1 seconds left to knot the game at 10-10 and force overtime.

“I wasn’t expecting it to happen; it bounced out and I got the ball,” said a smiling Halliday.

“There was one guy, I saw the time and I thought it is now or never. I went to the goal and luckily I was able to get by the other guy and get it in the net.”

Moments later, Halliday got another good bounce as he gathered in the ball on the overtime face-off and fired in the game-winning tally 10 seconds into the extra session.

Having committed to attend Tufts University and play for its men’s soccer team, Halliday brought a special sense of urgency this spring to the lacrosse field.

“This is it for me in lacrosse,” said Halliday. “I had fantasies of maybe trying out for the team at Tufts. I thought that would be fun but I think it is time that I focus on soccer. I have to choose one by the time I am in college. I will still love lacrosse. I will still play it when I am back here.”

Halliday had a lot of fun this spring, tallying 54 goals and 19 assists as PHS advanced to the Group III sectional semis and posted a final record of 16-4.

PHS head coach Peter Stanton credited Halliday with making a major contribution to the team’s success.

“Kevin is fantastic,” asserted Stanton. “He has the things that you can’t coach — the quickness, the change of direction, creativity, and vision. He is just a special athlete.”

For Halliday, the special camaraderie the Little Tigers developed this spring may have been the most memorable thing about his final lax campaign.

“Our coach (PHS head coach Peter Stanton) has been saying all year that this is one of the best teams he has coached,” said Halliday.

“We are so close; in every practice, everyone is working together. It is competitive; defense versus offense but it’s all good.”

For being one of the best players in the area and competing to the end, Halliday is the choice as the Town Topics top male performer of the spring season.

Top Female Performer

When Emilia Lopez-Ona started her career with the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team in the spring of 2011, she didn’t have records on her mind.

Instead, she was simply looking to get the most out of her ability. “Part of the beauty of the sport is in terms of the growth and the ability of someone to improve,” said Lopez-Ona.

“The sport allows for people to make rapid transitions throughout their career. I know that I have watched a lot of the younger players on our team raise the level of their games.”

Lopez-Ona, though, took her game to an incredibly high level, hitting the 300-goal mark in her career with a 6-goal performance in a 14-10 win over Allentown on April 24.

The game was stopped and the PHS players mobbed Lopez-Ona, waving posters and posing for photos.

“I am glad I scored it here at home; my dad was able to see it, he missed my 100th because he was coming back from a business trip,” said Lopez-Ona, who is heading to Penn where she will play for its women’s lacrosse program.

“It means a lot that my teammates would do that; they were truly happy for me. Watching them do that for me, it feels really nice.”

While Lopez-Ona possesses true athletic gifts in terms of speed and coordination, PHS head coach Kelsey O’Gorman points to diligence as the key ingredient in the midfielder’s success.

“It didn’t come easy; she works really hard,” said O’Gorman. “Those 300 goals came from coming out here when no one is on the turf with a bag of balls and shooting nonstop. She has worked hard for this milestone. I am really proud of her; it is phenomenal to coach a player like her.”

Lopez-Ona ended up producing a phenomenal spring, scoring 89 goals and getting 31 assists as the Little Tigers went 17-4 on the way to advancing to the MCT championship game and the finals of the state Group III South sectional.

Noting that the Little Tigers started the season with two losses in their first three games, Lopez-Ona liked the way PHS improved collectively as the spring went on.

“When we do need to make changes as a team, we can control the tempo and the possessions in the middle of the game to gather ourselves,” said Lopez-Ona. “That shows a lot of maturity.”

O’Gorman, for her part, credited Lopez-Ona with being the catalyst that drove the PHS team.

“Emilia fought with all of her heart and soul,” said O’Gorman. “She lives and breathes lacrosse. She has enhanced her game over time.”

Lopez-Ona’s blend of competitive fire and skill earns her the nod as the top female performer this spring.

Top Newcomers

After pitching ace Ben Gross was sidelined this spring by arm problems, things looked bleak for the PHS baseball team.

Little Tiger head coach Dave Roberts, though, had a feeling that sophomore Joaquin Hernandez-Burt could help fill the void in his debut season at the varsity level. “He is a sophomore but he is big and he has some velocity,” said Roberts when assessing Hernandez-Burt in March.

The precocious sophomore turned out to be a big plus for the Little Tigers, emerging not only as the team’s ace but one of the top pitchers in the area. Hernandez-Burt posted a 5-4 record for a 9-14 PHS squad. He posted a sparkling 2.25 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings pitched.

By the end of the spring, Roberts credited Hernandez-Burt with playing a pivotal role as the Little Tigers made their first appearance in the state tournament since 2001.

“Joaquin has been tremendous all year, he has been dominant on the mound,” said Roberts.

“He’s been our absolute workhorse; every single outing he had would qualify as a quality start. He has two shutouts; he’s been awesome on the mound.”

Hernandez-Burt’s stellar mound work makes him the pick as the top male newcomer of the spring.

Kathy Quirk wasn’t sure if Julie Fassl would be around the Hun School this spring for her freshman season on the softball team.

“I will tell you that the first couple of weeks in field hockey with her were brutal,” said Quirk of Fassl, who was transferring into Hun. “She said ‘I can’t stay here, this isn’t for me, I miss my high school friends.’ I really thought we were going to lose her.”

Fassl stayed at Hun and emerged as a valuable contributor for the field hockey team.

In the spring, she was a star for the softball team from day one, starting at catcher and hitting third in the Hun batting order. She provided superb defense behind the plate all spring long and was a reliable producer offensively.

“Fassl really stepped up, she was the only player in our lineup who didn’t have a strikeout this year,” said Quirk.

“She ended up making All-MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) and All-Prep as a freshman catcher. I had coaches saying to me after games that she is the real deal.”

For stepping up in such impressive fashion, Fassl is the selection for top female newcomer.

Top Coaches

Before the spring even started, Rob Tuckman knew he would be savoring this season with the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team.

Last fall, PDS head coach Tuckman announced that he would be retiring from coaching after the 2014 campaign.

Coming into the season, Tuckman had the sense that the Panthers were poised for big things as he looked ahead to his eighth season at the helm of the program.

“If we stay healthy, we can make runs,” asserted Tuckman. “We want to hang banners. We are going for the state Prep B title and the county championship.”

Featuring a potent offense and a stingy defense, PDS started the season with a 9-1 run, including wins over such formidable foes as Voorhees, Rutgers Prep, Peddie, and Somerville.

The Panthers started the postseason by overcoming an 8-2 halftime deficit to edge Montclair Kimberly 11-10 in the Prep B semis and then rolled to a 15-2 win over New Egypt in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament.

After stubbing its toe with a 5-4 loss to Notre Dame in the MCT quarters, PDS finished the season by hosting defending champion Rutgers Prep two days later in the Prep B title game.

The Panthers were primed to prevail in Tuckman’s finale. “They were hyped up for it, especially coming off of Saturday,” said Tuckman. “It made it all about just this game and they were able to really focus on it.”

Showing that focus, PDS jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the title game. After Rutgers Prep knotted the contest at 5-5 early in the second half, the Panthers produced a decisive 5-1 run on the way to a 10-8 win and the program’s first Prep crown since 1996.

To make things sweeter for Tuckman, his son, sophomore midfielder, Jonah, contributed three goals and two assists to help trigger the triumph which left the Panthers with a final record of 13-3.

As Tuckman reflected on the afternoon with his players hugging each other and posing for photos nearby, he couldn’t think of a happier ending.

“It is wonderful,” said Tuckman, with his voice cracking and his clothes soaked after having the water bucket dumped on him by his players in the raucous postgame celebration. “It is a great way to end my career as a head coach.”

For ending things with a bang, Tuckman gets the nod as the top coach of a male program.

After falling to WW/P-N and Notre Dame in the first week of the season, the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team could have suffered a crisis of confidence.

“We didn’t let the early losses to North (WW/P-N) and Notre Dame set the tone,” said PHS head coach Kelsey O’Gorman. “We knew we had a lot to offer.”

Indeed, the Little Tigers reeled off a 13-game winning streak, avenging the defeat to Notre Dame by beating the Irish 19-9 in the Mercer County Tournament semis.

After dropping a 13-11 nailbiter to WW/P-N in the MCT championship game, PHS won three straight games in the state tournament, outscoring its foes 48-24, in advancing to the Group III South sectional title game.

While the Little Tigers fell 17-5 to the powerful Quakers, O’Gorman was proud of how her players acquitted themselves.

“We were excited to show our talent and I think we did,” said O’Gorman, whose team posted a final record of 17-4. “We didn’t slow down and we played to the end. We brought it up to a new level for Princeton lacrosse.”

O’Gorman’s role in getting PHS to a higher level earned her the nod as the top coach of a female team this spring.

STRAIGHT SHOOTER: Princeton High golfer Laura Burke displays her swing form. Senior Burke, who has been the team’s top player the last two seasons, enjoyed a superb final campaign, taking third in the Mercer County girls’ golf tournament and 21st in the girls’ NJSIAA Tournament of Champions.

STRAIGHT SHOOTER: Princeton High golfer Laura Burke displays her swing form. Senior Burke, who has been the team’s top player the last two seasons, enjoyed a superb final campaign, taking third in the Mercer County girls’ golf tournament and 21st in the girls’ NJSIAA Tournament of Champions.

Having divided her athletic efforts between golf and soccer, Laura Burke faced a crossroads in 2011 during her freshman year at Princeton High.

“I was playing golf pretty well my freshman year and then I broke my foot playing soccer so I didn’t play in any matches,” recalled Burke.

“I had been playing soccer since third grade. After I broke my foot, my parents said I had to pick one sport so I chose golf.”

Burke made the right choice, emerging as the No. 2 player on the PHS golf team in her sophomore season and then holding down the top spot that last two years.

While being the leading player can be a burden, Burke has enjoyed that role.

“I don’t look at it like that,” said Burke. “I am very competitive; the high school matches didn’t have as much pressure as the tournaments I play in the summer.”

After taking up golf as a grade-schooler, Burke became more competitive by middle school.

“My dad is a golf fanatic so I started when I was young,” said Burke. “I started getting serious in 8th grade. I was taking lessons at Bedens Brook and my coach said I was pretty talented.”

Fitting in with the PHS squad proved to be a serious challenge at first. “It was kind of tough; there is no girls’ team so I had to play with the boys,” said Burke.

“The top boys’ player in the state (Fraser Graham) was on the team at the time so that was pretty intimidating.”

Longtime PHS head coach Sheryl Severance played a key role in helping Burke feel welcome.

“I have gotten so close to Sheryl, she is like my mother at school,” said Burke.

Getting more intense about her game after her junior year prompted Burke to take a brief hiatus from golf before her final PHS campaign.

“Last summer, I tried to play everything,” said Burke. “I was in a different tournament every week, I was all over the country. I had some trouble with my swing; I wasn’t playing my best. I took a break this fall and then worked with a different coach. I felt I was really playing well coming into the spring.”

Burke has enjoyed some highlights this spring, carding a memorable 38 in a win over Lawrence, taking third in the county girls’ tourney, and ending her season by placing 21st in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions.

“In the 38 against Lawrence; I had three birdies and a double, it was a weird round,” said Burke.

“I got third in the counties,” said Burke. “I double-bogeyed the last 2 holes so I was pretty disappointed. The Tournament of Champions was nice, playing at Cherry Valley. I shot a 79.”

In assessing her strengths as a player, Burke points to consistency off the tee and on the green.

“It is definitely my driving; I like my RocketBallz (TaylorMade driver),” said Burke, who will be taking a gap year before matriculating to Lehigh where she is hoping to play for the women’s golf team.

“I can put it right in the fairway. I had some trouble in the past with pulling it. When I am practicing my putting, I can do really well with that.”

As Burke reflects on her high school career, she believes that taking on the boys has made her a tougher player.

“I think the experience of playing with the boys has really helped me,” said Burke.

“They put a lot of pressure on me in practice and it was a good feeling to beat them. It helped me gain confidence and has made me more competitive in the girls events.”

VISION OF SUCCESS: Hun School softball head coach Kathy Quirk views the action from the dugout. Quirk, who just completed her 39th season at the helm of the program, was recently inducted into the Trenton Softball Hall of Fame in the women’s coaching division.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

VISION OF SUCCESS: Hun School softball head coach Kathy Quirk views the action from the dugout. Quirk, who just completed her 39th season at the helm of the program, was recently inducted into the Trenton Softball Hall of Fame in the women’s coaching division. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For players on the Hun School softball team, earning the squad’s “Iron Woman” award is a coveted honor.

“It is for commitment; you get it if you don’t miss a practice and you are ready to play in every game,” said Hun head coach Kathy Quirk, explaining the award.

“On this year’s team out of 12 girls, seven got it. I strive to make kids feel that softball is important to them.”

Quirk herself qualifies as an iron lady, having just finished her 39th spring guiding the Hun softball program. In recognition of her longevity and a run of success that has seen the Raiders win 10 state Prep titles in her tenure, Quirk was recently inducted into the Trenton Softball Hall of Fame in the women’s coaching division.

In reflecting on the honor, Quirk, 63, wasn’t expecting it to come her way.

“I was caught off guard, I said you have to be kidding me,” said Quirk. “There are so many qualified coaches in the area and they are just as deserving so it was kind of a shock. It is very well appreciated.”

It was a high school coach that put Quirk on the path to her Hall of Fame career.

“I was influenced to get into coaching by my field hockey coach, Mary Anne Morgan, she was this young, dynamic coach,” said Quirk, a native of Runnymede, N.J. who went to Sterling High.

“I remember we went to camp and she stood on the table and she was dancing to the Supremes. She had such a positive influence on me.”

Quirk starred in field hockey, softball and basketball at Sterling and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 1997.

Applying to Trenton State (now The College of New Jersey) against her father’s wishes, who wanted her to stay home and go to Glassboro State (now Rowan University), Quirk was accepted and came to Mercer County to continue her athletics career and pursue her goal of teaching and coaching.

“When I went to Trenton State I played all three sports up until my senior year,” said Quirk, who was named the school’s top female athlete in her sophomore year.

“My junior year I went abroad and played field hockey over in England and then came back in January so I didn’t play basketball; I just played softball. In my senior year, I just played field hockey and softball.”

After graduating from Trenton State in 1973, Quirk stayed in the area as she found a home at the Hun School.

“I graduated from Trenton State and Hun was looking for a field hockey coach,” said Quirk.

“I remember taking the bus and walking up and coming down here. I can remember what I actually wore that day. It is crazy. By the time I left, they hired me as a health and Phys. Ed. teacher and I was going to coach field hockey, basketball, and softball for $5,500 a year.”

Just months out of college, Quirk had to be a quick study as she plunged into  coaching.

“It was tough because you are not much older than the kids you are coaching,” said Quirk

“I think I was 22 and the school had just taken girls the year before or two years before and some of them were 17, 18. It was a challenge.”

Quirk faced a challenge in making the fledging Hun softball program competitive.

“It was more of a rec type program, more of a JV program, they were still building,” said Quirk.

“We didn’t have the equipment and facilities. I think it was just a gradual thing. We were playing on a grass field and my parents one weekend helped us skin the infield down there. We took wheel barrows and brought it all out; we took the dirt in. At that time, you didn’t have a big budget.”

By the 1990s, Hun was a big-time power in New Jersey prep softball circles. “In 1997, 1998, 1999 we won three in a row, which was really great,” said Quirk, whose office in the school’s Athletic Center has framed photos of each of those teams on the wall with other championships squads. “They were a good bunch of kids, they worked hard.”

Hard work and tenacity are two of the main cornerstones of Quirk’s coaching approach.

“I am a believer in fundamentals and drills,” said Quirk, who was inducted into the Hun School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.

“I tell them that it is not always the most talented people that win but it is those who have the desire to win. You get that from constant repetition and constant drilling. I am not a screamer and a yeller. I think I prepare them enough that when they step on the field, they are ready to play the game.”

Getting Hun ready to play has been a family affair as Quirk’s husband, Bill, is her longtime assistant, and youngest son, Patrick, has helped out as well.

“We all bring something different to the table,” said Quirk, who guided the raiders to a 9-8 record this spring and an appearance in the state Prep A semifinals. “Pat worked with the infield, I work with the outfielders, Bill works with the batters so we all have our own role. It has been a family type thing.”

Over the years, Quirk’s former players have started to feel like family. “We had an alumni weekend; it was a little crazy, I am trying to coach a game and they are walking on the field to say hello,” said Quirk.

“Some of them have told me I have gotten a little soft in my years. I still hear from players. Aly Klemmer ’10 is coming back today to have lunch with me. I am not their best friend but I think they respect me and know what is expected and I think they appreciate that when it’s all done and all over.”

Quirk has appreciated getting the opportunity to coach for so many years. “I just think that coaching is very special; you form a bond with these girls,” asserted Quirk.

“There are days when they are having a bad day and I have to look past that. I always tell them when you walk into that team room and you walk down to that field, I want two hours of your time and I think they have learned to do that. I think they have learned to grow. I just watch my players, like I watched Kristen Manochio this year who we brought out of center field and to third base and by the end of the season you saw something shine in her eyes when she made a good play. It was not easy for her but as we told her, we believe in you and if we believe in you, you have to believe in yourself. I try to instill that about believing in themselves.”

In the final analysis, Quirk tries to instill life lessons that resonate long after high school.

“I am very competitive but there is more to the game than winning,” said Quirk.

“It is about building character and learning how to work with each other and learning how to be a teammate. It is learning how the game goes and being able to take the losses with the wins.”

OPENING STATEMENT: Bobby Davison of Ivy Inn dribbles the ball upcourt last year in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. Last Wednesday, Davison helped defending league champion Ivy Inn edge Northeast Realty 53-44 in the opening night of 2014 summer hoops action.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

OPENING STATEMENT: Bobby Davison of Ivy Inn dribbles the ball upcourt last year in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. Last Wednesday, Davison helped defending league champion Ivy Inn edge Northeast Realty 53-44 in the opening night of 2014 summer hoops action. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Bobby Davison acknowledged that Father Time is catching up with him as his Ivy Inn squad started its 2014 campaign last week in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League.

“Honestly, I never thought I would be one of the oldest guys in the league,” said Davison, a former hoops standout for Princeton High and The College of New Jersey.

“It was like yesterday that I was playing for SMB and now all of a sudden I am 30 and I have been in the league for 15 years.”

It took Ivy Inn a while to get its legs moving last Wednesday in the opener against Northeast Realty stocked with recent PHS alums. Knotted at 31-31 midway through the second half, Ivy pulled away to a 53-44 victory.

“It is never easy as the years go on,” said Davison. “We all have families now and we are not playing nearly as much as we used to. Playing a team like these guys is a very difficult first game for us coming right out of the gate.”

But with age comes savvy and defending league champion Ivy used that quality in overcoming Northeast.

“Arguably, we are the oldest, most experienced team in the league aside from Winberie’s probably,” said Davison, noting that Ivy Inn includes such stalwarts as Shahid Abdul-Karim, Mark Aziz, and Buddy Thomas.

“It is all veteran guys who have won championships, we have managed to keep the nucleus of the team together. Down the stretch you go to the foul line and we make foul shots and that’s what the experience and all that brings.”

Ivy Inn has supplemented that nucleus by adding Sherm Brittingham last year and picking up Greg Ford this summer.

“Last year having Sherm was a huge pickup and immediately we reached out to him again this year; he was excited and more than happy to be part of the team again,” added Davison.

“He just fits what we do, he is a great guy. He is a team player, he plays defense and he’s perfect for the Ivy Inn. I had the opportunity to play with Greg in the Hamilton league and I had so much fun playing with him. I figured this year I would rather play with him than against him. Every year we try to pick up one or two people, this year, it was Greg and I think he is going to be a huge addition to the team.”

In reflecting on his role, Davison is looking to provide some key intangibles for Ivy Inn, which fell 44-40 last Friday to Tortuga’s Mexican Village, the squad featuring the current TCNJ hoops players.

“I don’t get a chance to play as much but as the season progresses my role will increase,” said Davison, an officer with the East Windsor police department.

“I just try to be a leader and help us out on defense. I try to focus all of my attention on the defensive end and then on offense, create shots for the offensive players.”

Davison and his teammates are focused on getting another title this summer. “We have done it a couple of times,” said Davison of Ivy Inn, which has won four crowns in the last six summers.

“It is funny because even when we were running into guys here or there, they were saying we can’t wait to get back out and defend the title. I think it means a lot, guys are excited, they want to come out here and they take pride getting another title and repeating.”

June 11, 2014
HAMMER TIME: Princeton University sophomore Julia Ratcliffe displays her form in the hammer throw. This week, Ratcliffe will be competing in the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. ­Ratcliffe, a native of Hamilton, New Zealand, is undefeated in 11 competitions this spring and is ranked No. 1 nationally in the event. She has produced the best mark in the nation this year at 230’7, the furthest throw in the college hammer since 2011 and the fifth best throw in collegiate history.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

HAMMER TIME: Princeton University sophomore Julia Ratcliffe displays her form in the hammer throw. This week, Ratcliffe will be competing in the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. ­Ratcliffe, a native of Hamilton, New Zealand, is undefeated in 11 competitions this spring and is ranked No. 1 nationally in the event. She has produced the best mark in the nation this year at 230’7, the furthest throw in the college hammer since 2011 and the fifth best throw in collegiate history. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

When Julia Ratcliffe was about 12, her father brought home a special surprise one day.

“He said Julia I have got you a present,” said Ratcliffe, a native of Hamilton, New Zealand.

“I thought oh great, he never gives me presents out of the blue. It was on my bed and I said what the hell was that, that looks serious.”

The mystery package turned out to be hammer throw equipment and it didn’t take long for Ratcliffe to show that she had a gift for the event.

After dominating local and national competitions, Ratcliffe started to make her mark internationally.

“The Australian Youth Olympic festival in 2009 was my first big one,” said Ratcliffe.

“I got a gold in that. It was cool to have some success overseas especially because I wasn’t picked to win that one. I started getting more and more into it as I got older in high school. I started going to bigger international meets and things like that.”

Ratcliffe set the New Zealand U-18 and U-19 record for the women’s hammer throw on her way to placing fourth in the 2012 IAAFWorld Junior Championships.

In 2012, Ratcliffe came to the U.S., joining the Princeton University women’s track team and made an immediate impact, setting a school record in the weight throw in her debut meet and going on to take second in the event at the Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor championship. In the spring season, she broke the school and Ivy record in the hammer throw several times and won the outdoor Heps title in the event.

This week, Ratcliffe is in Eugene, Oreg., competing in the NCAA Championships. Having won all 11 of her competitions so far this spring, sophomore star Ratcliffe is ranked No. 1 nationally in the event.

Ratcliffe is bringing some extra motivation into the NCAA meet, having finished 11th at the nationals last spring.

“I was ranked second, even if I had an average day I should have done a lot better,” said Ratcliffe, who boasts the best mark in the nation this year in the hammer throw at 230’7, the furthest throw in the college hammer since 2011 and the fifth best throw in collegiate history.

“I just tried too hard so coming off that, I had renewed energy, really wanting to get better, do my best, and just figure out what went wrong and fix it.”

Staying in the moment this spring has helped Ratcliffe produce a brilliant campaign.

“As long as I go out there and give it everything and just be mentally and physically prepared as best as I can, you can’t complain about the result,” said Ratcliffe, citing her experience at the Penn Relays as an  example of her progress, noting that she fouled out of the 2013 competition and then uncorked a heave of 216’2 to place first this year and record the third best throw in the history of the storied meet.

“I just feel a lot more mentally prepared this year and I feel like I have the process better understood in my head. I understand myself a lot better when I am competing.”

Ratcliffe has enjoyed competing at and for Princeton. “It was unreal, we have nothing like this in New Zealand, just in terms of all these sports complexes in one place,” said Ratcliffe, who came to Princeton sight unseen and had only been to the U.S. for a family trip to California when she was 10.

“It was 60 ready made friends on the team. I would have probably found it a lot harder if I weren’t on a team. I am pretty social though but it is nice to have a wide range of interests on the team.”

In looking to the U.S. for college, she followed in the footsteps of high school friends.

“There were a few girls in my high school who went overseas on field hockey scholarships and so I thought that might be something I would like to do; I think I might have a good enough academic record to do that,” said Ratcliffe, who attended the Waikato Diocesan School for Girls.

“I didn’t know how I ranked academically and athletically against kids applying to different colleges.”

Considering such schools as Duke, Stanford, and Cornell, Ratcliffe concluded that Princeton was her dream school.

“I decided to go for my top choice which was Princeton because of the economics program here,” said Ratcliffe.

“I just really wanted to study economics. In New Zealand, it is expected that when you go into university that you know what you want to study so you start specializing immediately. I actually reached out to Ed Roskiewicz, who was the Princeton field coach at the time, and so I said hi, these are my distances, these are my SAT scores, will you have me.’”

Princeton women’s track head coach Peter Farrell is certainly glad to have Ratcliffe.

“There is an uncertainty with foreign athletes, you never know how they are going to mesh, it is a different system,” said Farrell.

“I was at a football game her freshman year and I saw a bunch of our freshman athletes there and one of them was in a tiger outfit and it was Julia. I said look at that, she has picked up on the college spirit.”

Farrell believes the lessons Ratcliffe gained from her freshman year has helped her pick it up this spring.

“She had ups and downs as a freshman and that is to be expected; she seemed to do well at home and not as well when she left the confines here,” said Farrell.

“She has one year of maturity and one year of competition under her belt. She is so methodical and consistent in her training, it is like a distance runner who runs 100 miles a week. She throws five to six days a week and not many throwers do that. She is devoted to her craft; it is her passion. She is incredibly fast at the end of her four turns but is still in control.”

Ratcliffe has also made an impression through her engaging personality. “She is an outgoing person, she has made friends easily with teammates,” added Farrell of Ratcliffe, who was recently named the Regional Field Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

“She has made friends with her opponents, she talks to every single competitor. It is not condescending, she is inclusive with her opponents. We have a grandfather class, 1966, for 2016 and there are three guys that have been coming to the meets and she talks and jokes with them.”

For Ratcliffe, there is no kidding around when it comes to her training regimen.

“I do a lot of power lifting and Olympic lifting, cleans and snatches and things like that,” said the 5’7 Ratcliffe, noting that her dad helps set her weight training program.

“The key muscle groups are the rotational core and quad strength. I do a lot of squats and dead lifts. I take 20 throws generally in a session. I throw different weights for speed and strength work. It is the power you can get into it from getting in the right body positions because I have been doing it for so long, especially in competition.”

As Ratcliffe looks forward to the hammer competition in Eugene, which is slated for June 11, she is focused on having the right frame of mind.

“I just want to throw well and keep it together because it is so easy to get overexcited and really nervous,” said Ratcliffe, who will be joined at the meet by five Princeton teammates, freshman Megan Curham (10,000 run), sophomore Adam Bragg (pole vault), senior Damon McLean (triple jump), junior Eddie Owens (steeplechase), and senior Chris Bentsen (10,000 run).

“So it is just having a solid series. I obviously want to throw far and the goal is obviously to win but you can’t control what everyone else does on the day so you can only do the best for you. In team sports, like field hockey, you can react to how the other people are playing. In this, you have to focus on yourself and do the best for you.”

Having qualified to compete in this summer’s Commonwealth Games, a major international meet being held in Glasgow, Scotland, Ratcliffe has her sights set on the world stage.

“I would love to go the Olympics in 2016 so that’s a big goal,” said Ratcliffe.

“I would also like to make it to a world champs. It would be kind of cool to get the NCAA record. I am not entirely sure what it is but if it is within reach that would be good.”

WINNING SHOT: Princeton High senior Michelle Bazile goes low as she starts a shot put in action this spring. Last Wednesday, the Brown-bound Bazile won the shot put at the Meet of Champions at South Plainfield High. She produced a school-record heave of 43’6.25 in taking the title. This weekend, Bazile will be competing on the national stage as she takes part in the 2014 New Balance Nationals Outdoors Championships at Greensboro, N.C.

WINNING SHOT: Princeton High senior Michelle Bazile goes low as she starts a shot put in action this spring. Last Wednesday, the Brown-bound Bazile won the shot put at the Meet of Champions at South Plainfield High. She produced a school-record heave of 43’6.25 in taking the title. This weekend, Bazile will be competing on the national stage as she takes part in the 2014 New Balance Nationals Outdoors Championships at Greensboro, N.C.

Michelle Bazile joined the track team at the John Witherspoon School in the spring of 2008 because she was looking to fit in.

“I was kind of anti-social at the beginning of sixth grade and my parents made me go out for a sport in the spring,” said Bazile.

“I disliked running and my dad was the throwing coach so I started throwing. I didn’t really like it but I stuck with it because I didn’t want to run.”

By the time Bazile entered Princeton High in 2010, she was committed to throwing.

“I started to enjoy it more; coming out of eighth grade, I thought it was a pretty good path to pursue,” said Bazile. “Number one, it was something I was enjoying and, number two, throwing can help get you recruited to college.”

Bazile’s path resulted in a state championship last Wednesday as the senior star won the shot put at the Meet of Champions at South Plainfield High.

As Bazile arrived at the meet last Wednesday to compete in the shot and the discus, she wasn’t focused on titles.

“I was just thinking about getting a personal record (PR),” said Bazile. “I didn’t care what I placed as long as I was happy with my distances.”

Early in the competition, Bazile achieved a new distance for her. “This girl named Cheyenne (Cheyenne Bellerand of Emerson High) popped a 43’3 on her first throw,” recalled Bazile. “I was seeded first so I threw last. My PR was 42’4 so I needed to beat my PR by a foot. I had 43’6.25 on my first throw.”

That throw, also a school record, held up and earned Bazile the title with Bellerand taking second.

“I wasn’t thinking about whether I was first,” said Bazile, who didn’t find out that she won until she was competing in the discus on her her way to a 14th place finish in that event. “I didn’t know where I was. I threw 45 on my last throw but my foot hit the board so it was a foul.”

Days after winning the championship, the achievement still hadn’t sunk in for Bazile.

“It’s kind of weird; I can’t believe it actually happened,” said Bazile. “The New Jersey girls at the national championships will be thinking of me as the girl who won. I will have a target on my back.”

In Bazile’s first two years at PHS, it didn’t look like a state title was going to happen for her. As a freshman, she was at 30 feet in the shot and threw 105’4 in the discus to make the sectionals. In her sophomore season, she got her shot in the 36 area and had a personal best of 127’3 in the discus.

“A lot of things started coming together in my junior year,” said Bazile. “For shot put, it helped that I did winter track instead of basketball so I was throwing constantly. At the Penn Relays that year I got my PR in the discus of 139’3 that is still my PR. It is a little frustrating. I was changing a lot of my technique and I got more into weightlifting.”

Entering her senior year, Bazile was confident that she could build on the progress she made as a junior.

“It was not so much about winning titles, it was more about getting personal bests,” said Bazile.

“In the winter, I was looking for 41-42 in the shot; I think I might have been at 41 in the postseason. In the discus, I was looking for 150-160, which is totally within my ability.”

As the season has unfolded, Bazile has been surprised by how well she has done in the shot.

“I had always felt that discus was my specialty until this year,” said Bazile. “I have been consistently throwing the shot put better and I am higher ranked in the shot put.”

Winning both the shot and the discus in the Mercer County Championships in May was a confidence builder for Bazile heading into state competition.

“At the counties, I had my best series in the shot put and the discus,” said Bazile, who had a throw of 41’2.5 to win the shot and a heave of 130’6 in winning the discus.

“I was in the high 120s and 130s in the discus. I had the shot consistently in the 40-41.”

This weekend, Bazile will be taking a shot at more glory as she competes in the 2014 New Balance Nationals Outdoors Championships at Greensboro, N.C.

“I have registered only for the shot in the championship division,” said Bazile, who is heading to Brown University where she will be throwing for its women’s track program.

“For the shot put I am looking to go 45 or better and stay in the circle. In the discus, I am entered in the emerging elite division. I have one more discus competition in my high school career. It would be great to PR but I just want to have fun.”

Bazile has certainly had a lot of fun since she grudgingly took up throwing six years ago.

GUIDING HAND: Greg Hand is enjoying the moment at a Princeton High swim meet this past winter. Hand, the longtime head coach of the PHS boys’ and girls’ swimming teams and the girls’ soccer program, recently announced that he is retiring from teaching and coaching.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GUIDING HAND: Greg Hand is enjoying the moment at a Princeton High swim meet this past winter. Hand, the longtime head coach of the PHS boys’ and girls’ swimming teams and the girls’ soccer program, recently announced that he is retiring from teaching and coaching. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Going by the numbers, it is clear that Greg Hand knows something about winning.

In 23 seasons as the head coach of the Princeton High girls’ soccer team, Hand has compiled a record of 223-152-20 with numerous appearances in the state tournament, a sectional title in 2012, and some stirring runs in the Mercer County Tournament.

Guiding the PHS boys’ and girls’ swimming programs since 1996-97, Hand molded the Little Tigers into a powerhouse. In his tenure, the boys’ squad has gone 202-46-3 with seven county crowns, 12 sectional titles, five appearances in the state finals, and a New Jersey Public B championship in 2012. During that stretch, the Little Tiger girls’ team has posted a record of 152-63-2 with two county crowns, seven sectional titles, and four appearances in the Public B championship meet.

But for Hand, the subject of winning hasn’t been the daily focus as he has worked with the PHS athletes over the years.

“I have wanted to challenge the kids to find out what 100 percent felt like, what it looked like when a team was there so that — to me — is one of the great coaching challenges,” said Hand.

“So if you are functioning at 90 percent, you are not even close. We are talking about working hard every day but also understanding hard work better than you did before you came into the season or better than you did a few years ago and really getting to understand what your potential for work is. I don’t just mean physical exertion but for focus and recovering from mistakes and what that looks like when you are really doing it right.”

After doing things right at PHS since the 1980s on the field, in the pool, and in the classroom teaching AP U.S. history, Hand has decided to retire from teaching and coaching.

In reflecting on his decision, Hand concluded that it is time to take a break from his heavy work load.

“The normal demands were 80-100 hours a week for about 40 years,” said Hand, 63.

“My life has rotated around my professional work as a teacher and a coach on the one hand and my family on the other hand. I don’t have a sense beyond that, even including summers when I have always been looking to preparing for the next academic year and the next seasons that were coming up in the next year. I am interested in finding out what life will be like without that constancy of focus on my profession.”

Hand’s life turned in the direction of teaching after he matriculated to Princeton University.

“It was not something I thought a great deal about but during college, I decided to become certified to become a substitute teacher,” said Hand, a native of Pound Ridge, N.Y. who played basketball and competed in track for his high school.

“I spent many a day during those years substituting at Trenton Central, all five of the middle schools, and the occasional failed effort to be an elementary school teacher for a day. I really, really felt and saw something there. I learned a little about the teacher preparation program so decided to follow up and learn more about it and then enrolled at the program at Princeton. My certificate came through the teacher prep program with the student teaching and so on in my senior year.”

After a stint at the Newgrange School, Hand came to the Princeton school system in 1985 as a teacher at John Witherspoon. He coached the PHS JV boys’ soccer team and served as an assistant for the Little Tiger track program, concentrating on the throwers. He moved to PHS in 1988 and took a three-year hiatus from coaching soccer to get himself established in his new position.

Hand took the helm of the PHS girls’ soccer program in 1991 and threw himself into the job.

“The wonderful challenge of head coaching is to deal with every possible aspect of the sport and also the real time nature of it,” said Hand, who continued to serve as a track assistant coach through spring of 2010.

“As much as you can do on the outside to prepare, to study, and try to improve yourself and try to come up with ideas, a huge amount of the execution in coaching is generally a real time response to what the situation happens to be.”

For Hand, one of the best situations he encountered during his career was the chance to coach his children, Emily, Matt, and Pete, in swimming.

“It was one of the most special things in my life,” asserted Hand, grinning broadly.

“There was a period where I had Emily and Matt. Em had to stop her career early because she had shoulder problems throughout her teenage life. I started with Matt in his freshman year and then after Matt graduated, Pete came in the following year. They were five years apart. It was thrilling in so many ways. The obvious one in terms of a family connection is just getting to experience something with your kids unlike anything else you might be able to do.”

Seeing his boys’ swimming team roll past Scotch Plains-Fanwood 109-61 in the 2012 state Public B championship meet provided Hand with a thrilling memory he won’t soon forget.

“I have never seen anything like it, the opposing coach said she had never seen anything like it,” said Hand.

“They had beaten us the year before, they were marginally the better team. We certainly lost more state championship meets than we won and what that does is to remind me that in sports, the contest is the thing. Winning is just extra special but it involves a whole different set of emotions, it seems to me, it is a combination of joy and in some ways, relief.”

In reflecting on his soccer tenure, Hand cited the impact that special players made on a year-to-year basis.

“One thing that runs through all of the sports but soccer in particular and certainly stands out there is the different character that each team had,” said Hand.

“We were, depending on the year, losing more than we were winning but there was a really good soccer culture and some terrific young ladies and really fine players. I think of teams that were shaped by the character of particular players, let’s say maybe we had a back four that was really solid and one year we had an incredible midfield and the next year we might have a real character forward.”

With that character came some outstanding play. “One of the great things about soccer to me was that regardless of what their particular abilities were, when the game is really flowing and it is not just attractive soccer, it is very effective, sometimes surprisingly effective,” added Hand.

“That is so rewarding when you see it. Sometimes you see it in spurts but other times you would see if for an entire half or a large majority of a game. There were such players and teams throughout the 23 years and some of them made the game look the way it should.”

One of Hand’s chief aims was to get his athletes to raise the level of their game.

“I tried to help kids understand that they have another gear,” said Hand. “That is rooted in my own experience in trying to be a good athlete and seeing it in the world of sports throughout my entire life when people do the things that literally make me catch my breath and almost cry. Student-athletes do have another gear and if they haven’t found it, it doesn’t mean that they won’t find it and if they have found it at some time, it is worth remembering what that was like and trying to connect with that more often.”

In Hand’s view, the pursuit of that extra gear helps a team come together collectively.

“The final thing I can think of in my sense of how athletes and teams get good is trying to help them to see some sort of cyclical relationship between hard work and team spirit,” said Hand.

“When you start working hard and challenging them to be enthusiastic as they are working and they complete some piece of work, whether it is a swimming workout or a real challenging exercise that we are doing in soccer or a certain number of reps of a certain type in track, that hard work generates a certain kind of spirit. The discussion there is to get the team to want to do more because they feel great about what doing more feels like.”

PHS athletic director John Miranda lauds Hand’s quality of work on many levels.

“He was an old school coach, wearing a shirt and a tie to the swimming meets,” said Miranda.

“He was incredibly well organized and incredibly thorough. He was always respected for his sportsmanship and his teams always showed good sportsmanship. He was a great teacher of the different sports but what he taught off the field was more important. He coached thousands of kids over the years, with 100 in swimming every year, 50 girls in soccer program, and 25 throwers.”

While Miranda is happy to see Hand step aside on his own terms, he rues the void being left in his wake.

“He is going to be really missed,” said Miranda. “He is the best combination of athletics, academics, and sportsmanship, a shining example to aspire to.”

Hand, for his part, will miss the daily interaction with his colleagues and students.

“It has been a thrill to be in the company of coaches who are so good at what they do,” said Hand, who plans to remain in Princeton and is looking into doing some track and swimming officiating and volunteer coaching.

“I feel very lucky to have worked with them and learned from them. The second thing, for sure, is the thrill day in, day out of working with student athletes, to try to help them actualize their potential. Even if I am tired, you get to the coaching venue and that is gone for what generally amounts to two or three hours and it is just completely focused and positive. There is always this effort to find a way to be constructive; wasted time is never in the agenda for coaching or teaching and I loved that.”

And Hand has undoubtedly made the most of his time at PHS in setting an example of class and success over the decades.

MAKING STRIDES: Princeton High softball player Stephanie Wu races around the bases in recent action. Sophomore third baseman Wu emerged as a star for PHS this spring, hitting a team-high .364. The Little Tigers went 4-4 in their last eight games to end up with a 7-16 final record.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING STRIDES: Princeton High softball player Stephanie Wu races around the bases in recent action. Sophomore third baseman Wu emerged as a star for PHS this spring, hitting a team-high .364. The Little Tigers went 4-4 in their last eight games to end up with a 7-16 final record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After losing 12 of its first 15 games this season, the Princeton High softball team could have thrown in the towel.

Instead, the Little Tigers came alive down the stretch, playing their best ball of the year.

“In the last 8 games we were 4-4,” said PHS head coach Dave Boehm, whose team ended the season by beating WW/P-N 14-9 on May 14 and topping Trenton 12-4 on May 19 to post a final record of 7-16.

“Of those losses, one was to Notre Dame, who had one defeat at that point, it was 4-0 in a game that was 0-0 in the fifth inning; there was a 5-4 loss to Nottingham in the bottom of the seventh and 6-4 to WW/P-S in the Mercer County Tournament. WW/P-S and Nottingham had 10-runned us earlier in the season.”

Going with the tandem of freshman Kayla Volante and junior tri-captain Sarah Eisenach to share the pitching duties within games helped the Little Tigers get more competitive.

“We called it our two-headed monster,” said Boehm of the rotation that saw Volante compile a 3.10 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 61 innings pitched and Eisenach post an ERA of 6.24 with 67 strikeouts in 79 2/3 innings.

“I think it threw other teams off. Kayla has a little better movement and Sarah is faster and not afraid to go inside on batters. I would have them go two or three innings at a time.”

The trio of seniors Liana Bloom, Katie Kanter, and tri-captain Jessica Campisi helped the team stay on track.

“Liana filled in for Emily DiLella at first base and she did a good job; she played the last 8-9 games and did very well defensively,” said Boehm.

“She struggled at the plate a little bit but she didn’t take that out to the field; she was able to separate that. Katie Kanter is a total team player, even though she is not catching any more, she would put equipment on and warm up pitchers. Jess stepped in at shortstop and did a really good job. She had a number of key hits for us. She works a count; she led us in walks.”

Sophomores Stephanie Wu and tri-captain Kelli Swedish led the way for PHS offensively.

“Wu hit .364, that is very good for a kid who hit about .190 last year,” said Boehm.

“She had big hits and she hit for power. Her homer against Ewing was not wind-aided. Swedish being injured for a while hurt us. We can count on her in left field. She hit .357 and she has some pop. She is our best baserunner, she doesn’t
make a lot of mistakes.”

Volante and classmate Nancy Gray emerged as players who could be counted on.

“Kayla didn’t pitch a lot in the beginning; when we went to the two-inning thing, she got more confident,” said Boehm.

“She knew she didn’t have to pitch the whole game and would be going back to the outfield. She hit .288, which is good for a freshman who has never played at this level before. For a kid who hadn’t caught in a while, Nancy did really well. She shut down the other teams’ running game with her throwing. She would throw a runner out or make it a close play and they wouldn’t run again. She’ll learn to drop down and get even better.”

Boehm expects the team to keep getting better collectively. “We won 11 games last year with six seniors; this year we won seven with a bunch of a new players,” said Boehm.

“I am excited looking at next year. They have to put in work over the offseason; they can’t just come out in March and start playing. They need to work on bunting, hitting, and the fundamentals. I told them they can have the key to the shed and use the equipment.”

THROWING GAS: Princeton Day School baseball player Dom ­Gasparro throws the ball in a game this spring. Sophomore third baseman Gasparro was a bright spot this spring for the Panthers as they posted a 4-12 final record.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

THROWING GAS: Princeton Day School baseball player Dom ­Gasparro throws the ball in a game this spring. Sophomore third baseman Gasparro was a bright spot this spring for the Panthers as they posted a 4-12 final record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Murphy’s Law certainly applied to the Princeton Day School baseball team this spring.

Things started going wrong in the first inning of the season opener as PDS pitching ace and junior quad-captain Cole McManimon was hit by a line drive that broke his hand, knocking him out of action for more than a month.

Playing shorthanded, the Panthers struggled, going 4-12 and getting eliminated in the first round of both the Mercer County Tournament and the state Prep B tourney.

It was all hands on deck for PDS this spring as the shortage of manpower required versatility.

“Some days we dressed 11 and all of the kids had two or three gloves in their bags,” said Panther head coach Ray O’Brien. “Instead of getting down, the kids embraced it. Everyone got to pitch in.”

O’Brien credited his players with maintaining an upbeat attitude as they dealt with the ups and downs.

“When you are going through a difficult season, it can become unpleasant for the players and the coaches but that never happened this spring,” asserted O’Brien. “The guys stuck together and played hard, it was a good group of guys.”

Senior quad-captain Ford Schneider played a key role in holding things together.

“Ford was a great leader, he showed the younger guys how to play,” said O’Brien of the Emory-bound Schneider, who hit .356 on the season.

“He was the epitome of a captain, he set a good example. He is what we want in a PDS player. He hit the ball well and played a good center field. He did whatever we needed.”

Junior shortstop and quad-captain Jake Alu did very well this spring, leading the Panthers in hitting (.419), runs (15) and hits (26) and posting a 2.06 ERA in 20 1/3 innings of work on the mound.

“Jake was our most consistent player; he led the team in most offensive categories,” said O’Brien of the Boston College-bound Alu.

“He was terrific at shortstop. When we needed him to pitch, he did well. We wanted him to be our closer but we didn’t have many opportunities for that.”

Another junior quad-captain, Villanova recruit and first baseman James Radvany closed with a rush, posting a .364 batting average.

“JP ended up with some pretty decent numbers, he started to come on at the end,” added O’Brien. “He got a lot of walks, people pitched around him.”

The team’s quartet of freshmen, Paul Franzoni (.341 batting average), Ryan Sparks (.383 batting average), Zach Dudeck (.453 on-base percentage), and Chase Fleming (23 2/3 innings and 3.25 ERA) came on strong.

“I don’t know what we would have done without Paul Franzoni at catcher; he caught every inning and was really good defensively,” said O’Brien.

“I was surprised at how well he represented himself at the plate, he hit above .300. He will come back bigger and stronger, I am excited to have him for the next three years. Ryan Sparks played first, outfield, and was a left-handed pitcher for us. He did all of that well and he hit well. I think he was our second or third top hitter. Dudeck played really well in the outfield; he ended up with a pretty good on-base percentage. Chase Fleming led us in innings pitched and appearances. He can find the strike zone; he is your typical crafty lefty.”

PDS also got good play from sophomores Dom Gasparro (.300 batting average) and Sam Guarino (.275 batting average). “Dom had a pretty good season, he really came on at the end of the year,” said O’Brien. “Sam really looked good at times, we just need him to be more consistent.”

In O’Brien’s view, enduring this spring’s rocky ride should help the Panthers be more consistent in the future.

“We lost a lot of close games, I think we had four one-run games; we were competitive the whole year and I think that is a good sign,” said O’Brien.

“We were playing so many young guys, to be in those games and be close will help us. We need to learn how to win those games. Having Cole back next year will make a big difference. All three of the big juniors will be captains and I think they will pick up where Ford left off.”

STANDING TALL: Mark Aziz of Ivy Inn, right, establishes inside position against Bobby Brackett of Sneakers Plus in last year’s championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. Ivy Inn swept the series 2-0 and Aziz was named as Foreal Wooten Playoff MVP. The league tips off its 26th season on June 11 with a triple-header at the Community Park courts.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STANDING TALL: Mark Aziz of Ivy Inn, right, establishes inside position against Bobby Brackett of Sneakers Plus in last year’s championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. Ivy Inn swept the series 2-0 and Aziz was named as Foreal Wooten Playoff MVP. The league tips off its 26th season on June 11 with a triple-header at the Community Park courts. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The deck has been reshuffled a bit as the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League tips off its 26th season this week.

“We definitely lost some of the old standbys in Dr. Palmer, PA Blue Devils, and Clear View,” said league commissioner and Rec Department Assistant Director Evan Moorhead.

“They couldn’t get enough players to commit. Some years we lose one or two teams but that is three pretty strong teams to lose.”

The league does boast the return of a pair of kings in defending champ Ivy Inn and Winberie’s, the 2012 titleists.

“Ivy Inn has the same group and I anticipate they will be in the mix for a championship,” said Moorhead.

“They have Bobby Davison, Mark Aziz, and Shahid Abdul-Karim. Shem Brittingham is back. They also have Lior Levy, Davon Holman, Kevin Tarca, and they have picked up Greg Ford. They should be a really strong team.”

Winberie’s has fortified itself for a title run. “Kurt Simmons has taken the reins from Mark Rosenthal; he knows the league and he knows the guys,” said Moorhead.

“They have picked up Jesse Krasna from the Blue Devils and Paul Johnson who played at Rider. They also got Terrance Bailey from Dr. Palmer. They have Chris Hatchell back along with Chris Edwards and Cliff Pollard. They may be the strongest challenger to dethrone the champions.”

Last summer’s wildcard, the entry comprised of current players from The College of New Jersey squad, which made it to the 2013 championship series, figures to again be a contender.

“The TCNJ team had a great run; it is not often that a team comes into the league and makes a championship run in its first year,” said Moorhead of the squad which is known as Tortuga’s Mexican Village this season after being sponsored by Sneakers Plus last summer.

“With Skye Ettin and Bobby Brackett, they will be tough. I think they have a lot of their guards coming back.”

There will be a strong Princeton High presence with the Princeton Youth Sports entry that contains current PHS players and the Northeast Realty squad, which includes a number of former Little Tiger standouts.

“PYS is back, they take their lumps but they are not in it for the wins and losses, they are looking to get the experience,” said Moorhead.

“Northeast is mostly PHS alums with guys like Ben Harrison, Ian Finnen, Fernando Silva, Davon Black, and Javon Pannell. They should be good and have a nice local following.”

The league’s new entries, which include Princeton Pi/Sketch Yogurt, Princeton Interventional Cardiology, King’s Pizzarama, and Belle Mead Physical Therapy, feature an intriguing mix of performers.

“The Princeton Pi/Sketch Yogurt team has some recognizable guys in graduating PHS players Cal O’Meara, Peter Mahotiere, Matt Donahue, and Paul Murray,” added Moorhead.

“They also have four Hightstown kids and some West Windsor and Ewing kids. They are going to be young but they should be an interesting team. Princeton Intervention has some guys from Raritan Valley Community College, I expect them to be competitive. King’s has Ryan Johnson, a Ewing kid, and Kenny Holzhammer, a former Princeton Day School player. Belle Meade is led by Matt Johnston, who is a Hillsborough guy. Most of the players are from that area.”

With the league opening action with a triple-header at the Community Park courts on June 11, starting at 7:15 p.m., the anticipation is building.

“We have been trying to generate some buzz on Twitter because the season sneaks up on a lot of people,” said Moorhead.

“I think when we get some more consistent warm weather, a bunch of days in the 80s, people will get in summer hoops mode.”

Moorhead is confident things will heat up at Community Park as the summer  unfolds.

“The first 25 years of the league have been great, I am excited to see what the 26th year brings,” said Moorhead.

“There were years when we had NCAA certification and there were a lot of D-I players. There was more talent but I think the league should be as competitive as ever.”

June 4, 2014
WILL TO SUCCEED: Princeton University men’s heavyweight rower Will Gillis (wearing visor) pulls hard for the Tiger men’s heavyweight varsity 8 crew in action this spring. Last Sunday, senior captain Gillis culminated his college career on a high note as he helped Princeton’s top boat take fourth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta at Mercer Lake.(Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

WILL TO SUCCEED: Princeton University men’s heavyweight rower Will Gillis (wearing visor) pulls hard for the Tiger men’s heavyweight varsity 8 crew in action this spring. Last Sunday, senior captain Gillis culminated his college career on a high note as he helped Princeton’s top boat take fourth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta at Mercer Lake. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

In taking the reins as the captain of the Princeton University men’s heavyweight crew this past fall, Will Gillis was determined to be there for the program’s younger rowers, on and off the water.

“I wanted to make myself available to the underclassmen; I have a wealth of experience academically and athletically as does the whole senior class and I wanted them to tap into it,” said Gillis, a native of Seattle, Wash. who helped the U.S. men’s 4- take third last summer at the U-23 World Championships in Linz, Austria.

“I think compared to my junior year, lots of underclassmen took the opportunity to talk to me about what they should major in and classes they should take. I have been helping them navigate the academics.”

Last weekend, Gillis helped the Princeton varsity 8 boat take a major step forward on the water as it placed fourth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta at Mercer Lake.

Gillis had the sense that the Tiger 8 would emerge as one of the elite boats in the country.

“I always knew we had the guys and horsepower to be a very good boat,” said Gillis.

“We had a lot of freshmen and sophomores in the mix and it was a matter of taking the talent we have and doing the hard work.”

There were some hard moments this spring as Princeton fell to Harvard and Yale in April competition.

“We raced a number of the top boats in the country in Harvard, Yale, Brown, Cornell, and Navy,” said Gillis.

“The fun part about the college regular season is that it allows for some ups and downs.”

Ending the regular season with a victory over Brown on May 3 had the Tigers on an upswing going into the postseason.

“We harnessed some things in practice and had a big win over Brown,” said Gillis of the triumph which saw Princeton clock a time of 5:31.9 to post 4.4 second win over the Bears and earn the Content Cup. “But it was in the week of practice before Brown that we had a boost.”

Turning those practice habits into more success, the varsity 8 broke through with a third place finish at the Eastern Sprints in mid-May, moving to medal stand after placing fourth the previous two years.

“It’s always big; I told all the guys after the race you only get one opportunity to do this a season,” said Gillis, reflecting on the crew’s bronze medal performance in which it posted a time of 5:32.411 on the 2,000-meter course at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. with champion Harvard coming in at 5:27.277 and Brown next in 5:28.998.

“It was big to step onto a place on the medal dock, there are not many spots. We left the race thinking that we wanted more for the boat and the program. The boat and the team is on the verge of becoming a strong force in the league.”

Princeton head coach Greg Hughes credits Gillis with being a major force behind the progress the program has shown over the last few years as it rose to fourth in the IRAs.

“Will is one of those guys who is great in and out of the boat,” said Hughes, whose varsity 8 came in at 5:43.715 to take third in the IRA regatta with Washington first in 5:37.113, Brown second in 5:39.626, and California third in 5:42.063.

“He leads by example, through the way he handles things in school and still performs on the water. He steps up in big situations. The experience he has had in that boat and in the summer time, racing for the U-23 team against tough competition and getting a medal, showed up in the tenacity of that boat over the weekend.”

Gillis, for his part, has made sure to savor his final weeks in a Princeton boat.

“After the Sprints, when I crossed the finish line, it hit me that this was over and that I would never be racing here again,” said Gillis, a politics major with a certificate in American Studies who graduated Tuesday and is going on to teach U.S. history to 11th graders at Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School which provides a college prep program for low income students.

“I talked to Greg and he said it is amazing how your perspective changes from 10 minutes before the race to 10 minutes after. I was thinking today, I will have to clean out my locker. In other years, it was I’ll be back. I am really enjoying the boat and the guys; they have made the experience amazing.”

SECOND WIND: The Princeton University men’s heavyweight second varsity 8 crew churns up Lake Carnegie in competition this spring. Last Sunday, the Tiger second varsity took second in their grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta held on Mercer Lake.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

SECOND WIND: The Princeton University men’s heavyweight second varsity 8 crew churns up Lake Carnegie in competition this spring. Last Sunday, the Tiger second varsity took second in their grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta held on Mercer Lake. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

With the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta being held at nearby Mercer Lake, the Princeton University men’s heavyweight crew was looking to feed on its supporters.

“We were excited to be racing close to home,” said Princeton head coach Greg Hughes.

“It was reunion week so there were a lot of alums who would be back. It was pretty remarkable to see them; it was neat for me as a coach and it was great for the guys.”

The Tiger varsity 8 provided the Princeton fans with some exciting moments as it produced superb efforts in the opening heat on Friday and semifinals on Saturday and then placing fourth in the grand final on Sunday.

“The plan was take things one day at a time; we knew we needed to have three great races to do what we wanted to do,” said Hughes, whose top boat placed first in its opening heat and second in the semifinals.

“We started off with a heat against Brown. We were executing things we had been working on in the down time since Eastern Sprints; that gave us a boost for the whole weekend. On Saturday, the race was just fun to watch. We were aggressive in pretty tough conditions, there was a crosswind and it was choppy at times. It was fun to get out in front in a race like that. Sometimes we are too cautious, worrying about making the finals.”

In the grand final, Princeton battled hard as it missed third place by less than two seconds.

“We carried that into the final on Sunday,” added Hughes, whose top boat clocked a time of 5:43.715 with Washington first in 5:37.113, Brown second in 5:39.626, and California third in 5:42.063.

“It was  apparent that there were 6-8 really good boats and it would come down to who had the best piece on the day. There was no question that Washington stepped up, I was even more impressed with Brown; they raced beyond themselves and that’s what you have to do. That was our best piece of the year. We were in front of Harvard for the first time in years, that was a big step for us. We have six guys returning on that boat and they have a sense of what it takes to go to the IRAs and compete.”

The second varsity 8 provided the best moment of the weekend as it placed second in the grand final, clocking a time of 5:45.133, trailing only Cal which came in at 5:42.880.

“That was the race of the year for our program, the credit goes to Spencer [Washburn] because he worked hard with that crew,” said Hughes referring to trusted assistant Washburn, who is leaving the program to become the head crew coach at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts.

“They brought an emotional intensity to that race. That was the culmination of a lot of hard work and spirit. They took control of the race and made everyone race to their standards. They beat Northeastern, who had beaten them at the Sprints. They beat Washington, a boat that hadn’t lost a race at the IRAs for the last four or five years.”

Over the last few seasons, the heavyweight program has raised its standards.

“The results we saw at the IRA speak to the progress of the year,” said Hughes, whose third varsity 8 took sixth and varsity 4 placed 12th.

“The team has changed its culture. It has developed a stronger work ethic and character. It has taken a lot of hard work and we are starting to see the result of that. Spencer and I played a part but the lion’s share of the credit has to go to the senior class; they had places where they wanted to see the team go to. They stayed true to that through some ups and downs. They were remarkable and they are going to be missed. They are leaving a legacy.”

In order to live up to that legacy, the returning rowers will have to keep going hard.

“We can’t take things for granted,” said Hughes. “The senior class has shown us that it is possible and we are good enough if we do the work.”

TAKING THE FIFTH: The Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity 8 heads up Lake Carnegie in a race this spring. Last Sunday, the Tigers placed fifth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta at Mercer Lake.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

TAKING THE FIFTH: The Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity 8 heads up Lake Carnegie in a race this spring. Last Sunday, the Tigers placed fifth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta at Mercer Lake. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

If one takes the glass half-empty approach, the fifth-place performance by the Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity 8 crew in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta last Sunday was distressing.

The Tigers fell off the pace by the 1,000-meter mark and posted a time of 5:55.362 on the 2,000-meter course on Mercer Lake, nearly eight seconds behind the winning time of 5:47.921 posted by national champion Cornell.

“Rowing is a momentum sport; it is important to feel someone next to you,” said Princeton head coach Marty Crotty.

“Once you lose contact with the lead pack; it is really hard to feel that you are competitive. You are scrambling to hang on to the lead pack, showing desperation.”

But Crotty adopts a glass half-full perspective on the spring, refusing to let the season be defined by the last race.

“The season was good if you look at it as a process to work our way back to the top,” said Crotty, noting that the varsity 8 posted a victory at the Head of the the Charles in October and won the Harvard-Yale-Princeton regatta this spring and then took third at the Eastern Sprints.

“We had higher highs. We won at Head of Charles in the fall and that was a direct result of staying in shape over last summer; we only have 15-20 practices before that. By sweeping at H-Y-P and winning the Vogel Cup, we accomplished something that has been a nemesis for us. Harvard and Yale are tough programs. It was a great day and the last day that we had everyone healthy this year. At sprints we showed resiliency. We had some injuries and we had to do some reshuffling.”

With nearly the whole team returning next year, Crotty believes the Tigers have the potential for greatness.

“We have everyone back but three rowers and we have a couple of rowers who are coming back after taking a year off,” said Crotty.

“We have a strong freshman class coming in. I think the returning guys can learn things from the high highs. We showed that when we are healthy and clicking on all cylinders and put our best forward, we can do some good things.”

SILVER LINING: The Princeton University women’s open second varsity 8 crew heads back to the dock with bronze medals draped around their necks after taking third in the Ivy Championships. Last Sunday, the boat took a step up and earned a silver medal as it placed second in its grand final at the NCAA Rowing Championships held on the Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind. The Tigers finished sixth of 22 schools in the team standings at the NCAA regatta.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

SILVER LINING: The Princeton University women’s open second varsity 8 crew heads back to the dock with bronze medals draped around their necks after taking third in the Ivy Championships. Last Sunday, the boat took a step up and earned a silver medal as it placed second in its grand final at the NCAA Rowing Championships held on the Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind. The Tigers finished sixth of 22 schools in the team standings at the NCAA regatta. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

Moments after the Princeton University women’s open varsity 8 crossed the finish line in the semifinal at the NCAA Championships last Saturday, the boat members realized they had missed making the grand final by an eyelash.

Some of the rowers slumped forward in the boat in disbelief while others buried their heads in their hands as they sat on a corner of the 2,000-meter race course at the Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind.

Princeton head coach Lori Dauphiny acknowledged that her Ivy champion 8 was heartbroken by the result.

“There were some people moving in the third 500 meters but we knew that would happen,” said Dauphiny, whose boat finished fourth in 6:30.54, with Michigan taking third place and a spot in the finals by .23 in a time of 6:30.31.

“What was really hard was going into the last 500, having led the race and then having boats moving. It was so tight. Brown and Stanford got the upper hand, they had a half a seat. Our coxswain was looking at the Michigan cox; they were level. It was really tough, it was a punch in the gut. No one wants to get aced out in the semis for a spot in the finals but it was by a whisker and so you start thinking about what you could have done differently.”

A day later, another Princeton crew, the second varsity 8 had an entirely different reaction after they placed second in their grand final. The rowers raised their arms in exultation and hugged across the boat.

“They really felt like they were getting stronger,” said Dauphiny, referring to her second 8 which posted a time of 7:02.03, trailing only Ohio State, which came in at 6:59.43.

“They fell short at the Ivies and it was great to get some redemption. They were very eager to get another chance. They handled it with maturity and seemed to get more and more confident over the weekend.”

The varying reactions of the crews reflects Princeton’s fortunes this spring. “We had some ups and downs,” said Dauphiny, whose program finished sixth of 22 schools in the team standings at the NCAA regatta. “It feels good when the kids finish up and feel they did the best they could. It was a season of development.”

The varsity 8 went out on Sunday and finished up in style, winning the ‘B’ final to place seventh in the nation.

“I thought it was a show of character, heart, and integrity,” asserted Dauphiny, whose top boat clocked a time of 6:51.80 in winning the race. “I was so proud of them, they felt like they redeemed themselves a bit.”

Dauphiny was certainly proud of her second varsity as they earned Princeton’s highest finish in the NCAA regatta in that classification since 1997.

“We wanted to capitalize on some of the things we had done in the semis; we wanted to have a sprint,” said Dauphiny of the boat.

“The 2V hung together from the beginning of the season to the end. It was good having the presence of two seniors, Kathryn Irwin and Maggie Cochrane, in the boat.”

The Princeton varsity 4 hung in there, taking fifth in its ‘B’ final to place 11th overall.

“It was a learning experience and extremely valuable for the depth of the program,” said Dauphiny, noting that the boat added a rower for the NCAAs who hadn’t competed since opening day due to injury.

“They handled adversity and they did their best to deal with it and move forward. They ran out of time; there was a lot of great competition out there and some really fast boats.”

Over the course of the spring, the Tigers displayed a great competitive spirit.

“The senior class did a nice job of making an impact,” said Dauphiny. “There are a number of people coming back and I am excited about that. I want them to learn lessons about being resilient and dealing with adversity.”

Princeton University seniors Lisa Boyce, Michelle Cesan, Julia Reinprecht, Susannah Scanlan, and Kelly Shon were named last week as winners of the 2014 C. Otto von Kienbusch Award.

The C. Otto von Kienbusch Award is the highest senior female student-athlete award at Princeton. C. Otto von Kienbusch was a staunch opponent of the addition of women to Princeton University in the late ’60s. Once women were admitted to the school, several early women athletes made a trip to his home in upstate New York to try to win him over. They were so successful that he became a major supporter of women’s athletics at Princeton and endowed this award.

Swimming star Boyce, an English major from Champaign, Ill., led Princeton to a pair of Ivy League team championships in swimming and diving, and she did so while winning nine individual Ivy crowns.

She holds four program records, and she was named the Ivy League Championships Career High Point Scorer at the 2014 league meet.

While her Ivy titles came in the 50 freestyle, 100 free and the 100 backstroke, her most historic swim at Princeton came in the 100 butterfly, when she finished seventh in the 2014 NCAA Championship meet. In so doing, Boyce became Princeton’s first first-team All-America since Alicia Aemisegger.

Field hockey standout Cesan, a politics major from New Vernon, New Jersey, is one of the greatest scorers in the history of Princeton field hockey.

A four-time first-team All-Ivy League selection, she ranks sixth all-time at Princeton in goals scored with 34 and is tied for sixth all time in points with 92.

Cesan was a four-time All-America, including a first-team All-America selection this past fall, after she led Princeton in scoring with 10 goals and 10 assists for 30 points. She was a four-time first-team All-Region selection, and she was the 2013 Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year.

One of the key members of Princeton’s 2012 NCAA championship team, she has also been active with the United States national team program.

Another field hockey standout, Reinprecht, a politics major native from North Wales, Pa., was a four-time All-America and four-time All-Region selection, as well as the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year and a four-time first-team All-Ivy pick.

She was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and a second-team All-America as a freshman, and she was a second-team All-America again as a sophomore before being a two-time first-team All-America to finish her career. She also was on the 2012 NCAA tournament all-tournament team as Princeton won the NCAA championship.

Reinprecht was also a member of the United States Olympic field hockey team, and she was a starter at the 2012 Summer Games in London. She is currently in the Netherlands competing with the U.S. team at the field hockey World Cup.

Fencer Scanlan, an economics major from Minneapolis, Minn., earned a bronze medal with the United States epee squad at the 2012 London Olympics for the first medal in women’s team epee in U.S. Olympic history.

She helped Princeton to the NCAA team championship in 2013. Her career has taken place over six years, allowing for time off to prepare for the Olympics, and during that stretch Princeton’s team finish at the NCAA finals rose from eighth in her freshman year of 2009 to the team title in 2013 and a runner-up finish this past year.

Individually, Scanlan, a first-team All-Ivy League honoree in each of her first two seasons, has been a four-time All-America, only the second Princeton women’s epeeist to achieve that and first in 12 years. She advanced to the medal competition twice at the NCAA Championships, first with a runner-up finish last year and then with a third-place finish this year.

Golf star Shon, a sociology major from Port Washington, New York, is a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year after winning the honor the past two seasons. A four-time All-Ivy League honoree, including three first-team honors, she is one of just two Tigers and seven players in league history to earn All-Ivy League recognition four times since the Ivy began sponsoring women’s golf in 1997.

Making program history at the NCAA level as well, Shon was selected to three NCAA East Regionals as an individual and is one of only three Tigers to play in NCAA events in three seasons. Last year, she became one of just two players in program history to qualify for the NCAA Championship, doing so by finishing as runner-up, the highest finish in program history, at the 2013 East Regional. Her finish and her score to par were both the best in an NCAA final in program history.

ON THE HOP: Princeton University men’s track star Tom Hopkins flies through the air in a long jump competition this spring. Last week, senior Hopkins was named as one of the 2014 recipients of Princeton’s William Winston Roper Trophy along with classmates Alec Keller, Damon McLean, Caraun Reid, and Tom Schreiber.(Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

ON THE HOP: Princeton University men’s track star Tom Hopkins flies through the air in a long jump competition this spring. Last week, senior Hopkins was named as one of the 2014 recipients of Princeton’s William Winston Roper Trophy along with classmates Alec Keller, Damon McLean, Caraun Reid, and Tom Schreiber. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Princeton University seniors Tom Hopkins, Alec Keller, Damon McLean, Caraun Reid, and Tom Schreiber were named last week as the 2014 recipients of the William Winston Roper Trophy.

The award was originally given by Mrs. William Winston Roper and the Class of 1902 in honor of Princeton’s famed football coach. It goes annually to “a Princeton senior male of high scholastic rank and outstanding qualities of sportsmanship and general proficiency in athletics.” It has been awarded annually since 1936.

Track star Hopkins, a politics major from Haverford, Pa., is a multi-talented athlete who competed in the sprints, relays, and long jumps. He competed in two NCAA championships, earned two All-America honors, and qualified for the NCAA East Regional in each of his four years. He was part of a quartet that earned a Penn Relays win in the distance medley relay in 2012.

Hopkins was a six-time Ivy League Heptagonal indoor champion in events including 400, 500, long jump, and 4×400. Outdoor he won six titles in the 400, long jump and 4×400. Incredibly, he ends his career with 25 first- or second-place Heps finishes.

Baseball standout Keller, a politics major from Richmond, Virginia, became the second Princeton player ever to be named Ivy League Player of the Year when he earned the award this past season.

He is also the first three-time first-team All-Ivy League selection for Princeton since Ivy League baseball began in 1993 and the third three-time all-league selection in program history, after two others did so in the Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League.

Keller led Princeton this season with a .327 batting average and four triples, and he was second in RBIs, home runs, and doubles. His .545 slugging percentage was third in the league. For his career, he had a .336 batting average.

Track star McLean, a chemistry major from St. Catherine’s, Jamaica, is a two-time All-America in the triple jump and just the second athlete in Heps history — and first since 1975 — to win four straight triple jump titles. McLean also won the outdoor triple jump three times and was the runner-up as a freshman. He won the Heps Most Outstanding Field Performer at the 2013 Indoor Heps after sweeping the triple and long jumps and was named the Regional Field Athlete of the Year that same season.

He posted a personal best and school record this April with a mark of 16.11 meters. At the time that was the second-best jump in the nation. He will be competing later this month at the NCAA Championships for the third time.

Football standout Reid, a sociology major from The Bronx, N.Y., put together one of the most stellar careers in Princeton football history. The defensive lineman earned First-Team All-America honors this season and was the second Tiger ever to be invited to the prestigious Senior Bowl. His dominance resulted in Reid being chosen by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round of the NFL Draft last month, the highest for a Princeton football player in the modern draft era.

A two-time team captain, Reid’s leadership during the past season helped lead the Tigers to a championship campaign. After enduring back-to-back 1-9 seasons early in his career, Reid helped push Princeton to an 8-2 record in 2013 and a share of the league title.

Legendary lacrosse player Schreiber, a history major from East Meadow, New York, is one of the best midfielders in Princeton lacrosse history and one of the greatest ever to play Division I lacrosse. A three-time first-team All-America, he is also one of two two-time winners of the Lt. j.g. Donald MacLaughlin Jr. Award given to the nation’s top midfielder, an award first given in 1973 and whose first recipient was his father Doug a Hall of Fame lax player for the University of Maryland.

Schreiber is one of two Princeton players ever to be a four-time first-team All-Ivy League selection, and he was the No. 1 selection of the Major League Lacrosse draft by the Ohio Machine.

He ranks fifth all-time in scoring at Princeton with 200 points on 106 goals and 94 assists and is the only player in program history and one of only five in Ivy League history — and the only Ivy midfielder — with at least 100 goals and at least 90 assists, as well as the only player to rank in the top 10 in program history in both goals and assists and the school-record holder for goals, assists and points by a midfielder.

Schreiber won the Senior Class Award this year for outstanding achievement in the areas of competition, the classroom, the community and character. He is also a two-time finalist for the Tewaaraton Trophy, the highest honor in college lacrosse.

CLOSING LINE: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse star Emilia Lopez-Ona heads to goal in action this spring. Senior and Penn-bound Lopez-Ona ended her career with a goal and an assist as PHS fell 17-5 to Moorestown last Thursday in the state Group III South sectional final. Lopez-Ona closed out her career with more than 300 goals and tallied 120 points this season on 89 goals and 31 assists.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CLOSING LINE: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse star Emilia Lopez-Ona heads to goal in action this spring. Senior and Penn-bound Lopez-Ona ended her career with a goal and an assist as PHS fell 17-5 to Moorestown last Thursday in the state Group III South sectional final. Lopez-Ona closed out her career with more than 300 goals and tallied 120 points this season on 89 goals and 31 assists. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It would have been understandable if the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team brought a sense of dread into its state Group III South sectional final matchup at perennial power Moorestown High last Thursday.

After all, Moorestown entered the game with a 22-0 record, riding a 73-game winning streak, ranked No. 1 in New Jersey and in the top 5 nationally.

But PHS head coach Kelsey O’Gorman saw the clash with the high-powered Quakers as a reward.

“It was a great opportunity for us,” said O’Gorman. “You know that if you are going up against Moorestown in the states that you are having a great season. We wanted to at least reach the same game that we reached last year and we made it to the sectional final again. We were excited to take them on and see that level of lacrosse.”

While Moorestown showed that it was at a higher level than PHS as it posted a 17-5 win, O’Gorman had no qualms with her team’s performance.

“We were excited to show our talent and I think we did,” said O’Gorman, who got three goals from Gabby Gibbon in the defeat with Emilia Lopez-Ona adding a goal and an assist with Allie Callaway chipping in a goal. “We didn’t slow down and we played to the end.”

With a final record of 17-4, the Little Tigers showed a lot this spring. “I couldn’t be happier with the way the girls played and conducted themselves,” said O’Gorman.

“They were a well rounded team and a class act. They followed the lessons I tried to instill and they gave 100 percent all of the time and you can’t ask for more than that. We finished strong, we were a force to be reckoned with.”

One of PHS’s strongest efforts this spring came against Notre Dame in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals as the Little Tigers avenged a 15-10 regular season loss to the Irish.

“The win over Notre Dame in the county semis was a highlight,” recalled O’Gorman of the 19-9 triumph over the Irish.

“The girls played some great lacrosse, there were very few errors. To take such a lead on a team that had beaten us early in the season and then to hold them off when they made a run was great.”

O’Gorman credited the team’s seniors with sparking its run to the MCT and sectional title games.

“The seniors were awesome, all eight of them,” asserted O’Gorman of the program’s Class of 2014 which included Emilia Lopez-Ona, Dana Smith, Liz Jacobs, Emily Young, Krysta Holman, Stephanie Hauer, Kristi DeMilt, and Taylor Chiang.

“They were very mature. They took the underclassmen under their wings. The reason we went so far this year was due to their maturity. It is going to be hard to replace these seniors. They have made an impact on the program and the coaches.”

Penn-bound Lopez-Ona made an indelible impact on the program. “Emilia fought with all of her heart and soul,” said O’Gorman of Lopez-Ona who passed the 300-goal mark in her career in May and totaled 120 points this season on 89 goals and 31 assists.

“She lives and breathes lacrosse. She has enhanced her game over time; she has the determination to go out and practice hour after hour.”

The Little Tigers got determined play across the board from its senior group.

“Dana Smith (15 goals, 20 assists, and 81 ground balls inn 2014) had such fight, showed great fight on the ground balls,” said O’Gorman.

“Liz Jacobs (53 goals, 9 assists) has more power than any high school player I have ever seen. Taylor was such a versatile player. Steph Hauer (1 goal, 21 ground balls) and Kristi DeMilt (2 goals, 16 ground balls) knew how to keep the defense tight. This was one of the best defensive teams we have had. There were a lot of games where the defense was the MVP.”

With a solid core of returners, including juniors Gabby Gibbons (64 goals, 25 assists, 24 ground balls), Oona Ryle (8 goals, 1 assist, 37 ground balls), and Mira Shane (160 saves at goalie) along with sophomores Allie Callaway (23 goals, 1 assist) and Julia Ryan (13 goals, 8 assists, 28 ground balls), the Little Tigers figure to keep piling up the wins.

“We have a lot of great players coming back,” said O’Gorman. “Gabby and Allie work well together, they have big shoes to fill on offense. Ryle and Lis will go on our face-off unit. Mira is our backbone, she is great at communicating and directing our defense.”

PHS will need to keep showing backbone in the future to build on the success it experienced this spring.

“I think that they know that there are going to be challenges along the way and with hard work they can be really successful,” said O’Gorman, referring to her returning players.

“We didn’t let the early losses to North (WW/P-N) and Notre Dame set the tone. We knew we had a lot to offer. We brought it up to a new level for Princeton lacrosse.”

CREASE CONTROL: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse goalie Harlyn Bell makes a save in recent action. Junior star Bell was the backbone of the Stuart defense this spring as the Tartans posted an 8-6 record. Stuart ended the season with four straight wins in producing the program’s first winning campaign in seven years.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CREASE CONTROL: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse goalie Harlyn Bell makes a save in recent action. Junior star Bell was the backbone of the Stuart defense this spring as the Tartans posted an 8-6 record. Stuart ended the season with four straight wins in producing the program’s first winning campaign in seven years. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Stuart Country Day School lacrosse team, its season-ending win over Hamilton exemplified the program’s improvement this spring.

Displaying skill and poise, Stuart prevailed 15-11 to end the season on a four-game winning streak and post a final record of 8-6.

“We lost to Hamilton last year and we knew it would be a tough game,” said Stuart head coach Caitlin Grant.

“We have a different team this year. We fought the whole time. It was close. We never said we had it. We had to hold on to the ball in the last two minutes.”

A key factor that helped the Tartans hold off the Hornets in the May 15 contest was scoring balance.

“I loved the fact that a freshman, Mary O’Boyle, who just started playing this year, scored the first goal for us,” said Grant.

“The goals were spread out. Julia [Maser] had seven, Amy [Hallowell] had three. Tori [Hannah] had two and the freshmen had three.”

The team’s trio of seniors, Hallowell, Meghan Shannon, and Victoria Orellana, saved their best for last, coming with big efforts in the win over Hamilton.

“Amy really stepped up; she wanted to make it worth it for her last game,” said Grant.

“She went after every single ball and didn’t drop one pass. She left it all on the field. Meghan was talking and sliding on defense. She was looking to help people, she was really in the defensive mindset. Vicky made an impact. She fought to the restraining line and really played hard.”

The team’s hard work helped it make a bigger impact in local lacrosse circles.

“We went from three wins to eight wins, it was our first winning season in seven years,” said Grant.

“Last year we struggled, we were so young. We had a lot of freshmen playing. We didn’t have the game sense that you need on the varsity level. The teams in the area are very competitive.”

The one-two punch of sophomores Maser and Hannah impacted many games.

“Julia started stepping up at the end of last season; she was much more confident this season,” asserted Grant.

“She and Tori know how to run a two-person play and can score 90 percent of the time. They are confident at holding the ball when we need to do that. Tori’s shot is really on point.”

The squad’s three seniors kept the Tartans on point all spring long. “What I am most grateful for is how they were role models and leaders for the girls,” said Grant.

“They would take girls to the side and help them learn to catch, things like that. They are always positive. When I would come down hard on the team, they would bring the players back up.”

Looking ahead, Grant is confident that Stuart can keep on the upswing.

“The goalie, Harlyn Bell, will be a senior and she is going to be captain,” added Grant.

“She is good at keeping the team together. Most of the returning players will be sophomores and juniors and I am really excited about them.”

May 28, 2014
LIONHEARTED: Caraun Reid gets pumped up during his career with the Princeton University football team. Star defensive lineman Reid, who will be graduating from Princeton next week, was drafted in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the Detroit Lions on May 10 and headed to the Motor City the next day to start his indoctrination into professional football.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

LIONHEARTED: Caraun Reid gets pumped up during his career with the Princeton University football team. Star defensive lineman Reid, who will be graduating from Princeton next week, was drafted in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the Detroit Lions on May 10 and headed to the Motor City the next day to start his indoctrination into professional football. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Caraun Reid will be among the more than 1,000 graduating seniors congregating next Tuesday in front of Nassau Hall for Princeton University’s 267th commencement ceremony.

While many of the graduates will be wondering what awaits them in the real world, Reid has already gotten a taste of his life after Princeton.

The star defensive lineman was drafted in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the Detroit Lions on May 10 and headed to the Motor City the next day to start his indoctrination into professional football.

For Reid, his destiny started to come into focus when his cell phone rang early in the fifth round.

“I have a phone that identifies area codes and when I saw Michigan, I was excited,” said Reid, who watched the final two days of the draft from his family’s home in the Bronx, N.Y.

“I never thought this would happen when I started football. I was talking to everybody, [general manager] Martin Mayhew, coach [Jim] Caldwell, and the defensive coordinator, Teryl Austin. I was just really happy, I was smiling the whole time.”

In Reid’s view, joining the Lions is a good fit. “The coaches are great and I am in a position to compete and learn from some great players like Ndamukong Suh (Detroit’s Pro Bowl defensive tackle),” said the 6’2, 305-pound Reid, who is the 14th Princeton football player to be selected in the NFL Draft and the first in the modern era (since the 1970 merger) to be selected within the first five rounds. “It is is an ideal position for me to be in.”

While Reid didn’t have much contact with the Lions before the draft, he has immersed himself into the Detroit organization, staying out in Michigan since the draft and participating in a rookie minicamp, meetings, conditioning sessions, and one round of Organized Team Activities (OTAs).

“I met with them briefly at the combine but I hadn’t talked with them since,  my first time out there was last week,” said Reid, who officially signed with the Lions on May 15, entering into a four-year contract with a signing bonus of $188,880 and a total package of $2,408,880, according to the Pride of Detroit website.

“The minicamp was great. Getting into the competitive atmosphere helped me grow as a player. The rookie class is staying at the same place and we have gotten to know each other.”

Reid acknowledges that OTAs showed him how much he has to grow. “The OTAs have set the bar higher; you feel like a rookie out there,” said Reid.

“It is just the speed and being able to know where to go. The veteran guys know what is expected and the rookies don’t. You just compete as hard as you can. I just want to keep getting better and do better every rep.”

In Reid’s view, his Princeton experience gives him a better chance at succeeding in the NFL.

“I found out what I really loved, that was the biggest part of it, being able to pursue your passion,” said Reid, reflecting on his Princeton career.

“I am approaching this situation as a better man for having gone to Princeton. I think I will be more professional and have a greater maturity.”

Princeton head coach Bob Surace, who spent eight years on the coaching staff of the Cincinnati Bengals, believes that Detroit presents a good professional opportunity for Reid.

“Having had to play against Jim Washburn when he was at Tennessee, I know that he is one of the most respected defensive line coaches in the NFL,” said Surace.

“He likes hard-working, high effort guys who can rush the passer. The other part that is a good fit is that they have veteran guys on the line who are first round draft picks and who are productive. It will be good for Caraun to be in the same room with those kind of guys.”

In Surace’s view, Reid has what it takes to be a productive player in the NFL.

“The scouts got to know him; he has the physical traits plus the intangibles and work ethic,” added Surace of Reid, a 2012 and 2013 All-America and three-time first-team All-Ivy League honoree who had 20.5 sacks and 168 tackles in his career as he helped the Tigers rise from the cellar to a share of the 2013 league title. “There is a reason he went in the highest draft round of any player in Princeton history.”

Reid’s selection is another feather in the cap for a program that saw star defensive lineman Mike Catapano get chosen in the seventh-round of the 2013 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs and emerge as a special teams starter and rotation player for KC.

“I am so excited for Caraun; this is his dream and the career path he wants,” said Surace.

“It shows that we are developing guys in the right way. Our strength coach, Jason Gallucci, is doing as good a job as he can having the guys for one-and-a half to two hours. The coaches watch film and prepare; it shouldn’t be any different than Florida State. These are things we can do well and it doesn’t matter if you are D-III or Ivy League. The players have a heavy academic load but they value football too.”

Reid, for his part, is ready to do things the right way for the Lions and let the chips fall where they may this fall.

“I just want to be the best I can be,” said Reid. “I don’t know what is going to happen in training camp or in the season but as long as I am doing my best, that is the main thing.”