February 10, 2021

FAIR VALUE: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Laila Fair, center, heads to the basket in recent action. Last Thursday, senior forward Fair had 11 points and nine rebounds as Stuart defeated the Princeton Day School 73-17 to improve to 4-0. In upcoming action, Stuart plays at Rutgers Prep on February 11 and at Cherokee High on February 13 before hosting Paul VI on February 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though Laila Fair committed months ago to attend St. Joseph’s and play for its women’s basketball program, she is not on cruise control this winter in her senior campaign for the Stuart Country Day School hoops squad.

“I am not more relaxed, I am working to get better for them,” said senior forward Fair.

“I am working on my offense because I am known as a defensive player. I am also trying to develop my shoot more. I have to get confident shooting it in the game.”

Last Thursday, Fair displayed her all-around game, contributing 11 points and nine rebounds as Stuart rolled to a 73-17 win over the Princeton Day School and improved to 4-0.   

“The main thing that we wanted to do was focus on running  our offense because we need to prepare for our next five, six games against some really highly ranked local games,” said Fair.

“Today we did start a little bit slow but I think we are getting into the rhythm now. So it is getting better as we move on.”

The 6’1 Fair has developed a rhythm in the low post with classmate and fellow 6-footer Ariel Jenkins, who has committed to attend Georgetown University and play for its women’s hoops program.  more

MAKING STRIDES: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Hampton Sanders races up court in a game last season. Last Wednesday, sophomore guard Sanders scored 26 points to help PDS defeat Pennington 61-58 in double overtime in its season opener and the first game under new head coach Eugene Burroughs. The Panthers play at the Hun School on February 11 before hosting Sinai Christian on February 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Eugene Burroughs and his players on the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team are going through an intense learning experience together this winter.

Having coached for D-I college programs and then going on to the pro ranks in the NBA and G-League, Burroughs is making his debut at the high school level as he takes the helm of the PDS program.

His players, for their part, are getting inundated with some advanced hoops concepts.

“One of the phrases that I use with them is that sometimes you have to make the uncomfortable become comfortable because right now everything is so new to them,” said Burroughs.

“One of my assistants said to me the other day, coach do you think we are putting too much stuff in, the guys look confused. I said you know what, I am going to have them raise their level instead of me going down.”

There will be some bumps in the road as Burroughs and his players get on the same page.

“I told my assistants, think about what we are doing now and where we could be next year with these kids when they have figured it out, this is how we do it,” said Burroughs. more

TEACHABLE MOMENT: New Princeton Day School girls’ basketball head coach Seraphine Hamilton makes a point to her players during a time-out as the Panthers played at Stuart Country Day last Thursday. PDS, which fell 73-17 to Stuart to move to 0-2, is next in action when it plays at the Hun School on February 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Seraphine Hamilton feels fortunate that she is getting the chance this winter to take the helm of the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball program.

After stints coaching at the Peddie School, St. Andrew’s School (Del.), William Smith College, and the Newark Academy, Hamilton came to PDS in 2019 to teach English and lead the girls’ junior varsity hoops program.

With previous PDS head coach Liz Loughlin deciding to step away from the program this year, Hamilton got promoted to guide the varsity squad.

“It was a nice opportunity for me, it had been a very long time since I had been a head coach,” said Hamilton, 36, a 2006 graduate of William Smith College who played both soccer and basketball for the school.

“I hadn’t been able to set the focus and values of a program since St. Andrews. I had really been waiting for and hoping for an opportunity to come up. I got lucky.” more

PASSING IT ON: Hun School girls’ basketball player Kennedy Jardine looks to pass the ball in action last season. Senior guard Jardine will play a key role in triggering the Hun offense this winter. The Raiders, who fell 76-58 to the Blair Academy last Monday in its season opener, are next in action when they play at the Life Center Academy on February 12.

Dealing with COVID-19 concerns and strict protocols hasn’t dampened interest around the Hun School girls’ basketball program.

“The surprising thing is that this is the most girls I have ever had come out,” said Hun head coach Bill Holup, noting that the team’s December practices were held outdoors on the school’s tennis courts.

“I think there were about 30 girls who came out originally even under the circumstances of being outside in the cold and everything. That was very encouraging.”

In mid-January, the Raiders finally got to practice in their gym and were thrilled to work indoors. more

February 3, 2021

FEELING AT HOME: Princeton University baseball assistant coach Mike Russo, right, surveys the action alongside head coach Scott Bradley in a 2019 game. Russo, a former Hun School standout pitcher, was recently promoted to top assistant and recruiting coordinator for the Tiger baseball program. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Mike Russo has never had to move far in his baseball coaching career, but he’s happy to be moving up.

The Hun School graduate was promoted this month by Princeton University head coach Scott Bradley from the second assistant to the top assistant and recruiting coordinator for the Tiger baseball team that he started out with as volunteer coach six years ago.

“I had no plan exactly where the coaching thing was going to go,” said Russo.

“I did know I loved it and I wanted to move up and wanted more responsibility each and every year. That’s where I started. Once I got recruiting and got my hands on my first recruit, I just thought it’d be really awesome to take over that role and hopefully at some point I aspire to be a head coach. I’m in no rush to do that right now. I want to stay the course and keep getting more and more experience.”

Russo enjoyed a positive college career, pitching at North Carolina State for two years and then starring at Kean University. In his junior season at Kean, lanky right-hander Russo posted a 10-2 record with a 1.93 ERA, getting named as the 2011 NJAC Pitcher of the Year and garnering second-team ABCA/Rawlings and Division III All-America honors. Going 7-1 during his final collegiate season, he helped pitch the Cougars to a second consecutive D-III College World Series. more

STRONG GUY: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Ethan Guy, right, powers past a defender last Friday evening as PHS played at Nottingham in its season opener. Senior forward Guy scored a team-high 12 points in a losing cause as PHS fell 67-42 to the Northstars. The Tigers are next in action when they are slated to play at Hopewell Valley on February 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While Pat Noone isn’t sure how many games his Princeton High boys’ basketball team is actually going to play this winter, he believes that just getting on the court is helping its players mentally and physically.

“It is really good for the kids, we are doing a good job of following all of the safety protocols that are in place,” said PHS head coach Noone, who guided the Tigers to a 13-12 record in 2019-20 and a spot in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals.

“It is great for the kids’ interactions; it is great for them to be playing. There are a lot of positives and we are doing everything in our power to keep it safe.”

The players are responding positively to getting the chance to play.

“They are so glad to be around their friends and teammates, they are so glad to be playing,” said Noone, whose team fell 67-42 at Nottingham last Friday evening in its season opener with senior Ethan Guy tallying a team-high 12 points in the defeat.

“I think it is really good for all of them. Everybody knows that it has been a rough year, but they are super stoked. They are excited. They are happy.”

Noone is excited to have senior point guard Tim Evidente back to trigger the PHS offense.

“Timmy is looking really good, he is getting some looks from Rutgers Newark so hopefully he can play next year,” said Noone.

“He looks really well; he is quick with his hands. I am glad that he gets to go out and get seen although it is not a normal senior year.” more

SEEING THE COURT: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Brynne Hennessy looks to unload the ball in a game last season. This past Friday, senior guard Hennessy scored nine points to help PHS defeat Hamilton West 43-19 in its season opener. In upcoming action, the Tigers are scheduled to host Nottingham on February 4 and Hopewell Valley on February 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Over the last few seasons, playing solid defense has been a calling card for the Princeton High girls’ basketball team.

But with an infusion of promising freshmen to go along with some battle-tested veterans, PHS head coach Dave Kosa believes his squad is ready to pick up the pace offensively.

“We have had a really great defense in the county the last three years,” said Kosa.

“Even though we were 5-20 last year, we still had a really good defense. We gave up around 40 points a game last year which is really good for a high school team. We just couldn’t score the ball. We are hoping to go up-tempo this year and get some points off of our defense.”

Kosa is looking for freshman Casey Serxner to jumpstart the PHS offense.

“She is going to be phenomenal; you saw her on the soccer field and how good she was,” said Kosa of Serxner, who made a superb debut last Friday, tallying a game-high 10 points as PHS rolled to 43-19 win at Hamilton West in its season opener.

“With her toughness, her aggressiveness, she has been great. We are really excited to have her. She will be our point guard this year.” more

MILLER TIME: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey goalie Tim Miller tracks the puck against Morristown-Beard last Wednesday. Junior Miller starred in the game, making 24 saves to earn a shutout as PDS prevailed 4-0 over the Crimson in their season opener. In upcoming action, the Panthers host Seton Hall Prep on February 3 and St. Augustine on February 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Tim Miller bulked up by necessity coming into this winter for his junior season with the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team.

Battling through illness last year that saw his weight dip to around 100 pounds, star goalie Miller is a now a hale and hearty 150 pounds.

“It is much better; it was weightlifting, eating, bringing my stamina up and practicing,” said Miller.

“In the third periods, I was always so tired but I was able to finish games out.”

Last Wednesday, Miller displayed that hard-earned stamina, making 24 saves to earn a shutout as PDS defeated Morristown-Beard 4-0 in its season opener.

With Mo-Beard putting on the pressure in the first period, Miller got into a rhythm early in the contest. more

NOTCHING GOALS: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Ally Antonacci, left, heads to goal in recent action. Last Thursday, junior forward Antonacci tallied a goal and three assists to help PDS defeat Chatham-Madison 7-3. The Panthers, now 4-0, are slated to host Princeton High on February 9 and Morristown-Beard on February 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team locked in a scoreless tie against Chatham-Madison early in the second period last Thursday evening at McGraw Rink, Ally Antonacci broke the ice with a stroke of brilliance.

Racing toward goal on an odd-man rush, PDS junior forward Antonacci fired a laser into the top of the net to put the Panthers up.

For Antonacci, the tally came as a surprise as her view of the goal was obscured.

“I was actually blinded coming up,” said Antonacci. “I couldn’t see where I was shooting. Luckily I got it in.”

Sparked by Antonacci, PDS got a lot more pucks in the net, pulling away to a 7-3 victory, reeling off five unanswered goals over the last 12:05 of the third period as it improved to 4-0.

Antonacci helped get that run going, getting the puck to senior Hailey Wexler, who banged it home with 12:08 left in the third period to make it a 3-3 game. more

January 27, 2021

STICKING WITH THE PROGRAM: Tommy Davis, right, battles for the puck in a 2017 game during his senior season for the Princeton University men’s hockey team. Over the last two years, Davis has been teaching and coaching at Princeton Day School and also serving as the director of operations and then volunteer assistant coach for the Tiger men’s hockey team. In late December, Davis was promoted to the role of full-time assistant coach for the Tigers. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Tommy Davis helped the Princeton University men’s hockey team turn the corner during his senior season with the Tigers in 2016-17.

After Princeton went a combined 9-46-6 in the previous two years, defenseman Davis starred as the Tigers improved to 15-16-3 and won a first-round ECAC Hockey playoff series in his final campaign.

“I am proud about a lot of things and a lot of teams that I played with but I think what always stands out to me is my senior year and how we sort of finally found our rhythm,” said Davis, a 6’2, 185-pound defenseman from Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., who ended up with six goals and 15 assists in 96 appearances for Princeton.

“It was a really tough first year with Ron (head coach Ron Fogarty), Dex (assistant coach Brad Dexter), and Stavs (assistant coach Stavros Paskaris). The second year, we were a lot better but it didn’t really get reflected in the win column. Then that last year we were a respectable team. We were .500 or thereabouts, we won a playoff series, and we came really close to winning another one. I felt like we set the stage for the next year.”

The next winter, Princeton went on to win the ECACH tournament while Davis headed north and starred at Providence College in his remaining year of college eligibility, tallying a goal and 10 assists as the Friars advanced to the finals of both the Hockey East tourney and NCAA East Regional. more

OPENING SALVO: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Cooper Zullo, right, battles in the crease against the Hamilton combined team last Friday at the Mercer County Park rink. Sophomore forward Zullo tallied a goal and two assists to help PHS pull away to an 8-3 win in its season opener and first game under new head coach Dave Hansen. In upcoming action, the Tigers are slated to face Lawrence High on January 27 at the MCP rink. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Cooper Zullo and his teammates on the Princeton High boys’ hockey squad were frustrated early on as they faced the Hamilton combined team last Friday at Mercer County Park rink in their season opener.

PHS fell behind 1-0 as Hamilton goalie Trevor Malik repeatedly thwarted the Tigers.

“That was kind of a slow start for us; we hope to get the first goal but their goalie was really standing on his head today,” said sophomore forward Zullo.

“We were talking on the bench and we were saying once we get a few, they will keep coming in.”

With 9:05 left in the first period, Zullo got the first goal for PHS in the contest against Hamilton which includes players from Hamilton North, Nottingham, and Steinert. more

FAST EDDIE: Hun School boys’ hockey player Eddie Evaldi races up the ice in a game last winter. Senior defenseman Evaldi will be depended on to spark Hun at both ends of the ice again this year. The Raiders are slated to start their 2021 season by hosting the Pingry School at the Ice Land Rink on February 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the Hun School boys’ hockey team finally hit the ice last week to start training for an abbreviated 2021 season, the players weren’t just looking to sharpen their skills.

“You come to school on your alternating days, you have a mask on, you stay away from everybody, you go home and there is no social interaction,” said Hun head coach Ian McNally.

“It has taken a toll on that part. I think they are just happy to be in a place where they are the hockey program, whether they are playing in a league or not.”

With Hun playing a limited schedule with no Mid-Atlantic Hockey League (MAHL) action, McNally is ruing the lack of postseason play.

“We only graduated a handful of kids; it comes and goes in waves when you are good and when you are average,” said McNally, who guided the Raiders to a 9-14-2 record last year, advancing to the Mercer County Tournament final and the MAHL semis. more

APPLYING PRESSURE: Hun School boys’ basketball player Dan Vessey, right, puts on the defensive pressure in a game last winter. Guard Vessey emerged as a shooting star last year for Hun and is primed for a big junior season. The Raiders are slated to start their 2021 season this week by hosting Christian Brothers Academy on January 26 and Princeton Day School on January 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Starting in early December, the sound of squeaking sneakers, bouncing basketballs, and whistles could be heard emanating from the Hun School tennis courts on weekday afternoons.

With indoor sports banned in New Jersey for the last four weeks of December due to COVID-19 concerns, the Hun boys’ basketball team took its preseason training outside.

While braving the elements was challenging, Raider head coach Jon Stone credited his players with pushing through the situation.

“For all of us coaches and for all of these sports this year, we are starting with a lot of firsts,” said Stone.

“That was certainly a first, practicing outside, socially distant with masks on the tennis courts. I can’t say I have done that before. We made the best out of a tough situation; we tried to get done what we could get done.”

Getting back into the gym on January 16 proved to be a joyful moment for the Raiders. more

A-GAME: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Aleah James heads to the hoop in action last season. Senior guard James figures to be a key performer this winter as Stuart looks to build on a superb 2019-20 season that saw it win its third straight state Prep B title and advance to the Mercer County Tournament final for the first time ever. Last Friday, James scored 12 points as Stuart topped Life Center Academy 57-44 in its 2021 season opener. In upcoming action, Stuart hosts Sinai Christian Academy on January 27, plays at Life Center on January 29, hosts Paul VI on January 30, plays at Trenton Catholic on February 1, and hosts Princeton Day School on February 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Last winter, the Stuart Country Day School basketball team produced an historic campaign, winning its third straight state Prep B title and advancing to the Mercer County Tournament final for the first time ever.

Having posting a 21-7 record and emerging as one of the top teams in the state despite having an upper school enrollment of approximately 160 students, tiny Stuart won’t be able to sneak up on anybody this season.

“The girls are on alert that we have a target on our back so the way to counteract that is to outwork them and to treat it the right way,” said Stuart head coach Justin Leith.

“That is part of the learning curve, it is not like we are an established New Jersey powerhouse for the last 15-20 years where there is a knowing there. We are in the infancy of being established so we have to come out every single game like it is the championship because that is how people are going to be playing us. That is a good thing, that is how you get better.”

Stuart features a very good point guard in senior Nia Melvin. “Nia has been our MVP the last three years and, of course, she looks great,” said Leith of Melvin who tallied 12 points and had five rebounds to help Stuart defeat Life Center Academy 57-44 last Friday in its 2021 season opener. more

January 20, 2021

JORDAN RULES: Jordan Fogarty heads up the ice during his career for the Princeton University men’s hockey team. After graduating from Princeton last June, Fogarty headed to Europe to play pro hockey, joining Virserums SGF in Sweden’s Third Division. Through his first 10 games with the club, forward Fogarty tallied 11 goals and eight assists. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

When the Princeton University men’s hockey team saw its season halted last March by the pandemic after it had swept Dartmouth in an ECAC Hockey opening round playoff series, Jordan Fogarty was planning to move on from the sport.

“I was pretty well prepared to have that Dartmouth game be my final time lacing up the skates,” said forward Fogarty, who graduated from Princeton last June.

“I was applying to work in finance because I worked an internship over last summer.”

But after hitting the interview circuit, Fogarty decided that he wanted to get back on the ice and committed to play a post-graduate season at Long Island University while studying for an MBA.

With the specter of COVID-19 hanging over the college season, Fogarty checked out options to play pro hockey abroad and eventually signed with Virserums SGF in Sweden’s Third Division.

“I got a really interesting offer in the summer to work as an internship with a Princeton hockey alum (Steve Shireffs ’99) at a credit management fund (Granite State Capital Management),” said Fogarty, an economics major who made the ECAC All-Academic Team three times. more

GAINING CONTROL: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Catie Samaan controls the puck in a game last winter. Sophomore standout Samaan figures to be a key performer for the Tigers this season. PHS opens its 2021 campaign by playing at Princeton Day School on January 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Last winter, the Princeton High girls’ hockey team relied on senior star Victoria Zammit to control the tempo at both ends of the ice.

“Victoria was great because she could do everything herself to keep it in our other zone and give the defense a break,” said PHS head coach Christian Herzog of Zammit who tallied 45 points on 34 goals and 11 assists to help the Tigers go 4-14.

“She could also play defense and could be helpful there as long as she had the green light to rush the puck when she had the opportunity.”

With Zammit having graduated, Herzog is looking for sophomore Catie Samaan and junior Grace Rebak to step up this winter.

“Catie and Grace are going to have to be iron women and log a ton of time and be situational specific forwards to be on the power play and things like that,” said Herzog, whose team opens its 2021 campaign by playing at Princeton Day School on January 21.

“In the drills that we have been doing, I have Catie and Grace do mostly defense. They are the two strongest players on the team, they take initiative. They are going to have to work a lot of give and go together. They have to make some opportunities happen, especially offensively. Samaan has a strong head for hockey and Rebak is calm on the ice.” more

HAIL STORM: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Hailey Wexler heads to goal in a game last season. Senior forward Wexler will be depended on to help trigger the PDS offense this winter. The Panthers open their 2021 campaign by hosting Princeton High on January 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team didn’t hit the ice until early January due to delays stemming from COVID-19 concerns, John Ritchie believes that the late start may have made his players even more enthusiastic about the upcoming season.

“They are really excited, building off some of the enthusiasm from last year,” said PDS head coach Ritchie, who guided the Panthers to a 10-11 record last winter in his debut campaign at the helm of the program.

“We almost doubled the number of girls that are playing this year, which is awesome. Some are coming out for the first time. Some have played when they were younger and stopped to focus on other sports and they are coming back to it. For others, hockey is their primary sport. It is a really good mix. We had two scrimmages this week that went pretty well, so far, so good.” more

VOICE OF EXPERIENCE: Eugene Burroughs directs his players during a summer pro league game. Boasting a resume that includes coaching at the Division I level, the NBA, and the G-League, Burroughs has taken the helm of the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball program. (Photo provided courtesy of Eugene Burroughs)

By Bill Alden

Eugene Burroughs has undergone quite a basketball odyssey since the 1980s.

Growing up in Philadelphia, Burroughs starred at Episcopal High (Pa.) and then went south to play college ball at the University of Richmond. During his freshman season in 1991, point guard Burroughs sank the game-clinching free throws as the Spiders upset Syracuse 73-69 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, becoming the first 15th-seeded team to defeat a No. 2 seed in tourney history.

Upon graduating in 1994, Burroughs worked as a salesman for Coca-Cola before he was pulled back into the game to become an assistant coach for the American University men’s hoops program.

From there, he had associate coaching stints at Marist, Hofstra, Navy, Penn State, and a second stop at Marist.

The NBA came calling in 2014 as Burroughs became the shooting coach for his hometown Philadelphia 76ers. He later coached G-League teams in Delaware and California from 2016-20.

Now, the latest stop on Burroughs’ hoops journey is coming to Princeton Day School, where he has taken the helm of its boys’ basketball program, succeeding Doug Davis.  more

January 13, 2021

YOUNG LEADER: Chris Young fires a pitch in a 2005 game for the Texas Rangers. Young, a 2002 Princeton University alum who starred at basketball and baseball during his college career, was recently named as the executive vice president and general manager of the Rangers. After a 13-year playing career in the big leagues, Young had been working in the Major League Baseball front office for the last three years, most recently as senior vice president of on-field operations. (Photo provided by Texas Rangers)

By Justin Feil

One-tenth of the 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) general managers are Princeton University graduates after Chris Young was named the executive vice president and general manager of the Texas Rangers in early December.

The former Ivy League Rookie of the Year in baseball as well as basketball joined the ranks of Princeton alums turned general managers along with Mike Hazen (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Mike Chernoff (Cleveland Indians).

“I think it’s a tribute to one, the University, and two, Scott Bradley,” said Young, 41, a 2002 Princeton alum, referring to the longtime Tiger baseball head coach.

“What he has done over the years with his program, the influence that his players and thereby him have had on Major League Baseball is pretty significant. It really is a tribute to what a special person he is and I certainly would not be here without him.”

Young took a different path to his post than did Hazen and Chernoff, who headed into administration quickly after graduating from Princeton. The 6’10 right-hander Young spent 13 years in MLB before jumping right into the league’s front office for the last three years, most recently as senior vice president of on-field operations.  more

CALL TO ACTION: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Austin Micale looks to move the puck in a game last winter. Senior defenseman and assistant captain Micale is primed for a big final season. PHS, which is welcoming a new head coach in Dave Hansen, starts its 2021 campaign on January 18 by playing Paul VI at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While new Princeton High boys’ hockey head coach Dave Hansen has only had a week of on-ice practice with his squad after weeks of dry-land training, he believes things are already coming together.

“I am really happy with the boys right now, they work hard,” said Hansen, the longtime head coach at Madison High and successor to Joe Bensky, who guided the Tigers to an 18-4-2 record and the Mercer County Tournament title last winter.

“In the first one or two practices, I wanted to have some fun with them. I am just trying to have a good time with them and get to know them and they are trying to do the same thing with me. We are off to a good start.”

In Hansen’s view, he and his new players are quickly getting on the same page. 

“We are doing our forechecks, we are doing our d-zones, we are doing our power plays and penalty kills,” said Hansen.

“I try to do a lot of skills drills the first 20-25 minutes and then focus on systems for the last 45 minutes to an hour. We got on the ice last week and we started doing a few drills. When we started repeating them, they knew where to go right away. They know what they need to do and they are doing that at a high caliber.” more

By Bill Alden

Dave Hansen has been around the game of hockey since he was a preschooler in Morris County.

“I started playing hockey when I was 4 or 5 years old, it was a big sport in Chatham,” said Hansen.

“My cousins played and I was intrigued by it. My dad took me to a public session at a rink and I loved it. I had a chair in front of me, I would fall and he would pick me up to help me learn how to skate.”

Picking up things quickly on the ice, Hansen played club hockey for the Colonials, Rockets, and Devils programs and then went on to star for Chatham High. After graduating from Chatham, Hansen played at New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire.

Returning to New Jersey, Hansen got into coaching, starting as an assistant at Montclair High in 1995 and then becoming a head coach at Mt. Olive High and later Madison High.

In his 17-season tenure at Madison from 2004-20, Hansen led the program to unprecedented success, earning over 200 wins.

“I started the program with nine players; I had a lot of fun with it, they definitely listened to me and the systems I wanted to install,” said Hansen, 48, who runs a landscaping business when he is not on the ice. more

LOW RIDER: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Michael Sullo goes after the puck in a game last winter. After emerging as a star for PDS last winter, junior forward Sullo figures to be a go-to scorer for the Panthers this season. PDS opens its 2021 campaign when it plays at Don Bosco on January 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While there is normally a buzz in the air when the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team hits the ice to start preseason training, Scott Bertoli saw a heightened intensity when his players arrived at McGraw Rink last week to prepare for the 2021 campaign.

“It was good to be on the ice,” said PDS head coach Bertoli, who guided the Panthers to a 7-11-1 record last winter in a season highlighted by wins over Lawrenceville, Delbarton, and Hun.

“They were excited to be out there. That was even furthered by the fact that for many of them it was the first time being on our ice or being in the new athletic center so there was a lot of excitement surrounding the start of the season.”

The PDS players are excited to be furthering the program’s proud tradition.

“I know that a lot of these kids are playing club hockey outside of here but there is definitely something different to playing for your high school, especially at a school like this,” added Bertoli. more

January 6, 2021

ACTION JACKSON: Jackson Cressey controls the puck in a game during his sophomore season with the Princeton University men’s hockey team. After completing his career by helping Princeton defeat Dartmouth in a first-round ECAC Hockey series last March before the rest of the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Cressey is looking to join the pro ranks. He signed with the Reading Royals of the ECHL but that deal fell through when its season was canceled due to COVID concerns. He is currently training in the Princeton area and looking to catch on with another pro organization. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jackson Cressey gained some valuable lessons in perseverance last winter during his senior season with the Princeton University men’s hockey team.

After Princeton started the campaign with a win and a tie at St. Cloud State, the Tigers went 1-11-3 in their next 15 games.

“It is tough to stay positive in a season like that, but we knew that we had a lot of talent on our team and it was just a matter of time,” said star forward Cressey, a 6’0, 180-pound native of West Vancouver, British Columbia.

Serving as an assistant captain for the squad, Cressey felt an extra responsibility to keep things positive.

“It was a huge honor to be an assistant captain at a prestigious school like Princeton,” said Cressey.

“Being a senior captain, I just tried to lead by example and hold everyone accountable. We had a lot of young guys with a lot of talent and we just wanted to make sure that everyone was on the same page as much as possible.” more

CAMPING OUT: Princeton High cross country head coach Jim Smirk gives the thumbs up from one of the campsites that he stayed at last fall, isolated from his family to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for his wife, Rebecca, who had open heart and lung surgery in 2012 for complications caused by chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension. Despite his nomadic existence during that period, Smirk was still able to guide his PHS runners to a superb 2020 campaign. (Photo provided by Jim Smirk)

By Justin Feil

Although Jim Smirk was forced to make adaptations in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic like all coaches, his adjustments were a bit more drastic than most.

Princeton High cross country head coach Smirk guided his boys’ and girls’ teams to growth and success while making sacrifices behind the scenes in his personal life.

Over the final month of the season, instead of driving home to his Yardley, Pa., home after practices or meets, the Tigers head coach made his home camping either 20 miles up the Delaware River in Tohickon Valley Park, or across Route 1 in Mercer County Park.

“I was cutting a lot of wood to stay warm and cooking over a camp stove and grading on my laptop in my hammock,” said Smirk, who also teaches environmental science at PHS. “It was definitely a unique experience.”

Smirk isolated from his family to reduce the risk of COVID for his wife, Rebecca, who had open heart and lung surgery in 2012 for complications caused by chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, a blood clotting issue that damages the lungs. The couple also has a ninth-grade daughter, Emma.  more

FORCE OF NATURE: Wilberforce School cross country runner Jeremy Sallade displays his form as he competed in the NJSIAA (New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association) Non-Public South Sectional to end the 2020 campaign. Sophomore Sallade placed fourth individually in the race, clocking a time of 16:55.00 over the 5,000-meter course at Oak Ridge Park in Clark. Sallade’s performance helped Wilberforce take second in the team standings at the meet as it scored 54 points with St. Rose taking the title with 49. (Photo provided by Lois Szeliga)

By Bill Alden

Jeremy Sallade is a serious soccer player but he chose to join the cross country team this fall in his sophomore year at The Wilberforce School due to uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

“It is such a weird time with COVID, I didn’t know what it would look like,” said Sallade, who plays club soccer for Princeton FC.

“I decided cross country is more of a distant sport. I had been running a little so why not give it a try.”

In taking up cross country, Sallade was aided by his father, Chris Sallade, a track standout at Princeton University in the early 1990s.

“He has given me a lot of encouragement,” said Sallade of his father.

“We have run together a good bit and he will give me some tips on races, how to run, and how to try to give it your all and strategize. He has taught me a good bit.”

As he got into running this fall for Wilberforce, a school which moved to its current site on Mapleton Road in Princeton at the former Saint Joseph’s Seminary, Sallade had to make adjustments from soccer. more