August 21, 2013
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TO THE MAX: Maxime Hoppenot races up the field in action last fall in his sophomore campaign for the Tufts University men’s soccer team. Former Princeton Day School standout Hoppenot was the leading scorer in 2012 for the Jumbos, tallying seven goals and three assists, making first-team All-New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) honors as Tufts went 9-4-4 on the way to the NCAA Division III tournament. Later this month, Hoppenot starts preseason training at Tufts, looking to be even more productive as a junior.
(Photo by Alonso Nichols/Tufts Courtesy of Tufts University Sports Information Department)

As Maxime Hoppenot looked forward to playing college soccer, he dreamed of following in the footsteps of his older bother, Antoine, a star at Princeton University.

“Ideally I would have been going to Princeton to play with my brother,” said Hoppenot, a star midfielder at Princeton Day School who helped the Panthers win both the Mercer County Tournament and state Prep B tourney in his senior campaign in 2010.

“They only saw me three times and each time I had bad luck. One game I got hurt after 10 minutes. They didn’t see me enough to recruit me.”

But Hoppenot’s luck changed in 2010 when he spoke to Josh Shapiro, the newly installed coach of the Tufts University men’s soccer team.

“I really liked the coach at Tufts,” said Hoppenot. “I was in his first recruiting class. I talked to him on the phone and he was so excited about the program.”

Hoppenot ended up matriculating to Division III Tufts of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and produced an exciting debut season in 2011, scoring six goals, second most on the team.

Last fall, Hoppenot was even better, tallying seven goals and three assists to lead Tufts in scoring, making first-team All-NESCAC honors as the Jumbos went 9-4-4 on the way to the NCAA Division III tournament.

With the Tufts preseason kicking off next week, Hoppenot is primed to make even more progress this fall.

“We are all excited to get started; we think we can do some special things,” said Hoppenot. “We have to pull it together as a team.”

It took Hoppenot a while to pull things together in his freshman season. “In the first game, I was going in and fouling a lot of players,” recalled Hoppenot.

“I was sliding late into tackles, I had a lot of energy and excitement. The coach told me he liked the way that I played but that I had to calm down.”

Hoppenot had to change the way he played as he was moved to forward from his customary spot in the midfield.

“I had to make the transition from midfielder to point striker; I had to learn to hold the ball up and finish,” said the 6’0, 170-pound Hoppenot.

“In the fourth or fifth game, I started to get comfortable; I was getting more playing time.”

Notching his first goal in a 2-1 win over Colby helped increase Hoppenot’s comfort level. “Late in the first half, there was a through ball and the goalie was trying to waste time; Jono [Edelman] battled him, the ball came loose and he passed it to me and I scored,” said Hoppenot, recalling his initial tally which took place in a September 24, 2011 contest.

“It was a big weight off my shoulders, getting the first goal of the season and particularly your first college goal.”

Three weeks later, Hoppenot produced a breakout performance, scoring both of Tufts’ goals in a 2-1 victory over Williams.

“It was a homecoming and a huge crowd,” recalled Hoppenot. “I scored on my first touch; I came on and scored with my left foot to the side of net. About 10-12 minutes later, I scored again.”

By the end of October, Hoppenot’s scoring prowess earned him a promotion.

“I got to start against Bowdoin and I scored two goals and I have started ever since,” said Hoppenot.

Starting his sophomore season with a bang, Hoppenot emerged as one of the top performers in New England.

“I got four goals in the first four games,” said Hoppenot. “My sophomore year was a big step in the right direction. I only went from six goals to seven goals but I felt like I was playing much better. I was getting more attention from the other players.”

Hoppenot’s heroics drew the attention of his foes as he earned first-team All-NESCAC honors.

“I felt like I was playing well but I didn’t expect that,” said Hoppenot, who had two goals in a 3-0 win over Suffolk in mid-October and then tallied a goal and an assist in a critical 2-1 league victory over Hamilton.

“I have never been one of those guys who gets much recognition. I am the guy that does the dirty work and I am fine with that.”

Working with former PDS teammate Rui Pinheiro, who joined the Tufts program last fall as a freshman midfielder, was a bonus for Hoppenot.

“At first, he wasn’t on the field as much but he played more and more,” said Hoppenot, who is one of three Princeton residents on the Tufts squad with classmate Peter Lee-Kramer, a Philips Andover alum, being the other. “It is great having him there, he is one of my best friends off the field.”

While Tufts didn’t play its best in falling 1-0 in overtime to Vassar in the NCAA tournament, Hoppenot drew positives from the experience. “We didn’t take as big a step as I would have liked,” added Hoppenot.

“We lose our heads at times and play down to our opposition. Making the NCAAs was great, we lost on a penalty kick in OT. We had dominated the game. It was a cause for optimism.”

Hoppenot, for his part, is optimistic that he can be even more of a force in his junior campaign.

“I would like to be the NESCAC Player of the Year; I would like to score more goals,” said Hoppenot, who played for the Central Jersey team this summer in the Premier Development League (PDL) in addition to doing arduous fitness work.

“I don’t have a specific target, I just go from game to game and try to play my best. I need to finish my chances better; I have been working on that a lot this summer.”

PINPOINT: Rui Pinheiro controls the ball last fall in his freshman season for the Tufts University men’s soccer team. The former Princeton Day School star made his presence felt in the midfield for the Jumbos, getting into 15 games and making six starts. Next week, Pinheiro will begin preseason for his sophomore season, determined to build on the progress he made in 2012. (Photo by SportsPix, Courtesy of Tufts University Sports Information)

PINPOINT: Rui Pinheiro controls the ball last fall in his freshman season for the Tufts University men’s soccer team. The former Princeton Day School star made his presence felt in the midfield for the Jumbos, getting into 15 games and making six starts. Next week, Pinheiro will begin preseason for his sophomore season, determined to build on the progress he made in 2012.
(Photo by SportsPix, Courtesy of Tufts University Sports Information)

Rui Pinheiro didn’t have to wait long to get a taste of college action when he joined the Tufts University men’s soccer team last fall.

While the former Princeton Day School star had been working as a reserve midfielder in the preseason, an injury to one of the squad’s veterans thrust Pinheiro into the starting lineup for the season opener against Middlebury.

“The coaches told me a day or two before the game so I would be prepared,” recalled Pinheiro.

“It was awesome. I adapted pretty well. The depth of the team is so competitive; the practices are hard.”

Pinheiro did run into some hard times after that start as he was slowed by an injury.

“I took a knock and had a contusion on the back of my hamstring,” said Pinheiro, who came off the bench for much of the fall. “My athleticism was not there, it took a while for me to get my legs back.”

The skilled midfielder did make it back into the lineup, starting the last five games and helping Tufts go 9-4-4 as the Jumbos advanced to the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament.

Next week, Pinheiro will start preseason for his sophomore season, determined to build on the progress he made in his debut campaign.

“I am looking to start every game, play hard, and help the team do well,” said the 5’10, 150-pound Pinheiro, reflecting on his personal goals for the 2013 season.

In assessing the transition to college soccer, Pinheiro noted that it was like playing a different game.

“You have to step up with the physicality and the speed of the game,” said Pinheiro, who had one assist in his 15 appearances in 2012.

“In high school, you have a range of players. You have club players and others who are good athletes but not soccer players. In college, all the players are well-rounded, physical, and good soccer players. Everything is so quick; you have to be quick with the ball and make good decisions.”

Teaming up with former PDS teammate Maxime Hoppenot, a rising junior forward with the Jumbos, helped Pinheiro develop more quickly.

“We had a great connection,” asserted Pinheiro, who teamed with Hoppenot to help the Panthers win both the Mercer County Tournament and state Prep B tourney in 2010.

“In high school we both played center midfield so we were next to each other and talked a lot. We communicate a lot. I like bringing the ball up the field and getting it to him.”

Over the course of the summer, Pinheiro has worked hard to get better.

“I played Super Y this summer with PSA (Princeton Soccer Association); it is good to get more game experience in the summer,” said Pinheiro.

“The Tufts coaches give us a program with strength training, with lifting, and fitness work.”

In Pinheiro’s view, the Jumbos possess a strong blend of chemistry and skill that should serve the program well this fall and beyond.

“We had a really young team, by the end of the season, it was mainly freshmen and sophomores starting,” said Pinheiro.

“We showed improvement last season; we can only get better in the future. I think the camaraderie is awesome. We are all great friends; we hang out off the field. We are unique for an NESCAC team; a lot of the teams are physical and win that way. We have a lot of kids who are small and quick; we like to keep the ball and string passes together.”

MAIDEN VOYAGE: University of California, Berkeley-bound Vicki Jorgensen (a graduate of West Windsor-Plainsboro North High), left, and Rena White (Princeton High) of the Princeton National Rowing Association’s Mercer Rowing Club (PNRA/Mercer) head to a third-place finish in the Women’s U23 2- at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta earlier this month. Their performance was one of many superb efforts by PNRA/Mercer as the club made its debut appearance at the storied event.

MAIDEN VOYAGE: University of California, Berkeley-bound Vicki Jorgensen (a graduate of West Windsor-Plainsboro North High), left, and Rena White (Princeton High) of the Princeton National Rowing Association’s Mercer Rowing Club (PNRA/Mercer) head to a third-place finish in the Women’s U23 2- at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta earlier this month. Their performance was one of many superb efforts by PNRA/Mercer as the club made its debut appearance at the storied event.

With a tradition that stretches back to the 19th century, the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta has established itself as a premier fixture on the summer rowing scene.

When the storied regatta was held for the 131st year earlier this month at Saint Catharines, Ontario, Canada, the Princeton National Rowing Association’s Mercer Rowing Club (PNRA/Mercer) created some history of its own as it competed for the first time at the event, which included more than 2,800 athletes from over 150 rowing clubs.

Of the 22 events they entered, Mercer Junior crews reached the finals in seven events. The Mercer Juniors finished second in three events, the Women’s Under 17 4+, Women’s Under 23 Lightweight 4-, and Men’s Under 19 8+.

The Mercer Masters also excelled at the competition, reaching the finals in four events, the Women’s Masters C (age 43 to 49) 4+, the Women’s Masters D (age 50-54) 8+, Women’s Master D 4+, and the Mixed Masters D 8+.

“We entered the club to compete at Canadian Henley this year so our crews would have the opportunity to test themselves against a very high level of competition,” said Ted Sobolewski, the manager of PNRA/Mercer rowing programs and varsity girls’ coach who has previously competed at Henley as a rower and as a coach. “Getting to the finals at Henley is a great accomplishment for any rower.”

The Women’s U17 4+ of Kate Hickey (Notre Dame High), Rena White (Princeton High), Catherine Porter (Hopewell Valley High), Haley Bork (Robbinsville High), and coxswain Katarina Stough (Princeton High) accomplished a lot as they finished second behind gold-medal winning Brockville Rowing Club (Ontario) by 1.3 seconds.

The quartet of University of California, Berkeley-bound Vicki Jorgensen (a graduate of West Windsor-Plainsboro North High), Rachel Calabro (Robbinsville HS), Geena Fram (Lawrenceville), and White placed second in the Women’s U23 Lightweight 4- while Jorgensen and White also teamed up for a third place finish in the Women’s U23 2-.

Another impressive performance from Mercer came in the Men’s Under 19 8+ event. Finn Ludwig (West Windsor-Plainsboro South High), Aaron Goodman (Princeton High), Sean Kelly (West Windsor-Plainsboro South High), Timothy Lee (West Windsor-Plainsboro South High), Elias Albiheira (Princeton High), Brad Mills (Princeton High), Connor Ilchert (Lawrence High), Ron Haines (Hamilton High West), and cox Matt Perez (Robbinsville High) finished second to Canada’s Don Rowing Club. The crew is coached by PNRA/Mercer varsity boys’ coach and Masters’ coach Jimmy Newcombe.

The Mercer Masters, for their part, made a fine debut appearance at the regatta. The Women’s Masters C (age 43 to 49) 4+ finished second with the crew of Cheryl Baldino, Allison Lee, Sharon Waters, Kristin Tedesko, and cox Kat Stough. The Women’s Masters D (age 50-54) 8+ finished second with the crew of Kristin Appelget, Cassandra Cohen, Baldino, Kathy Kalinowski, Susan Voorhees, Lee, Waters, Tedesko, and cox Maddie Alden.

The mother-daughter duo of Susan Voorhees and Maddie Alden teamed up with Appelget, Cohen and Kalinowski to win a second silver medal in the Women’s Master D 4+. The Mixed Masters D 8+ finished third with a crew of Appelget, Neil Linzmayer, Miles Truesdell, Charles Gilbert, Michael Vaccaro, Cohen, Voorhees, Kalinowski, and coxswain Kat Stough.

August 14, 2013
BLOCK PARTY: Princeton University women’s water polo star goalie Ashleigh Johnson, left, prepares to block a shot in action last winter during her freshman campaign for the Tigers. Johnson recently made the U.S. squad for the FINA Junior World Championships, which runs from August 19-25 in Volos, Greece. It was the latest achievement for the Miami, Fla. native who was a third-team All-American, the CWPA Southern Division Rookie of the Year, and an All-Southern First Team performer in her freshman season.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BLOCK PARTY: Princeton University women’s water polo star goalie Ashleigh Johnson, left, prepares to block a shot in action last winter during her freshman campaign for the Tigers. Johnson recently made the U.S. squad for the FINA Junior World Championships, which runs from August 19-25 in Volos, Greece. It was the latest achievement for the Miami, Fla. native who was a third-team All-American, the CWPA Southern Division Rookie of the Year, and an All-Southern First Team performer in her freshman season. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Ashleigh Johnson didn’t waste any time making an impression this past February as she started her career with the Princeton University women’s water polo team.

Starring in her college debut against fourth-ranked Cal, goalie Johnson made 19 saves in a 7-5 loss, setting a new single-game saves record for the program.

“The Cal game was really fun,” said Johnson. “I knew I had to step it up; they are a really good team.”

The Miami, Fla. native kept stepping up all season, amassing 366 saves, a single-season program record, 47 steals, 22 assists, and a 0.668 saves percentage. She was named a third-team All-American, the CWPA Southern Division Rookie of the Year, and was selected to the All-Southern First Team.

Johnson helped Princeton win the Eastern Championship, earning its second straight trip to the NCAA tournament. She ended her season in style, establishing a new saves record in the NCAA tournament with a total of 38 as the Tigers finished fifth.

Next week, Johnson will get to make an impression on the world stage as she plays for the U.S. squad in the FINA Junior World Championships, which runs from August 19-25 in Volos, Greece.

In reflecting on her superb debut season, Johnson is humbled by the recognition she has received.

“I am really gratified to get those honors,” said Johnson. “I enjoy playing and I want to keep playing this way.”

Johnson started playing water polo when she was 12 as a way to keep busy in the summer.

“My mom wanted my sister and me to do something in the summer instead of just sitting around,” said Johnson.

“She put us in swimming but it was boring. There was water polo at the club and we tried it. I liked it right away; I liked that water polo was a game. I guess everybody starts in the field. My sister wanted to play goalie so I said I wanted to try too. She quit and I kept playing. I felt it was the best position.”

Johnson quickly moved up the ranks, starring for her club team, the Gulliver Riptides through her high school career. She earned All-America Honorable Mention at the U18 Junior Olympics in 2010 and 2011, playing for the U.S. Youth National Team Selection Camp in 2010 and the Youth National Team in 2011. Johnson also starred for Ransom Everglades High School, helping the Raiders to three consecutive Florida state titles.

With that kind of resume, Johnson was sought after by a number of college water polo programs.

“I wasn’t thinking about any one school at first,” said Johnson. “I narrowed it down to Michigan, USC, and Princeton. I had a visit to Princeton and I really liked it. I had a friend on the team from Miami and he introduced me to kids in all grades. I really liked the players.”

In addition to getting used to juggling her classwork and water polo at Princeton, Johnson had to adapt in competition.

“I got more used to my teammates and I adjusted how I play,” said Johnson. “My strength is my weakness. I come out a lot to make steals and intimidate. The problem is people can lob over me.”

Few people, though, got the ball past Johnson, whose precocious talent became a pillar for a Princeton team that posted a 28-6 record.

A major highlight for Johnson and her teammates came when they travelled to the University of Michigan in late April for the Eastern Championship with a berth in the NCAA tournament on the line. The Tigers rolled past George Washington 16-3 in the opening round before rallying to beat Hartwick 12-11 in double overtime in the semifinals and then edging host Michigan 7-5 in the title game.

“Those games were really good,” said Johnson, who totaled 35 saves in the competition and was voted Rookie of the Tournament, along with earning Eastern All-Tournament First Team honors. “I was really nervous. I was really excited when we won. Our captains really stepped up and motivated us.”

At the NCAAs, Johnson continued her sparkling play, making nine saves in an 8-6 loss to UCLA in the quarterfinals before making 15 stops in a 12-2 win over Iona in a consolation contest and then making 14 in a 12-10 double-overtime win against UC San Diego in the fifth place game.

“I just wanted us to do well and make a name for ourselves as an eastern school,” said Johnson. “I think we will do even better in the future.”

This summer Johnson has dedicated herself to making a name with the national program. She had to survive two weeks of tryouts and successive cuts to make the U.S. squad.

“I just wanted to do my best,” said Johnson, reflecting on the team selection process.

“At first, I was very nervous; I was out of shape. It is different from the youth national team; you are competing against much better players. I am really happy to be going.”

As the U.S. prepares for the competition, Johnson is confident the team can compete with anybody.

“We want to be first,” asserted Johnson. “The girls that we have on this team are really good, we need to be a team and play together.”

Serving as the last line of defense, Johnson knows that she will play a key role in keeping the team together.

“I have to communicate differently, said Johnson. “It is different than being on my college team, I am used to doing more. On this team, I don’t have to do as much but I have to be constantly talking. It is tiring.”

No matter how the U.S. does in Greece, though, Johnson believes that she can make an even bigger impact this winter in her sophomore season for Princeton.

“I think we will be better,” maintained Johnson. “I think I will be the same; I want to be more of a leader.”

INAUGURAL FLIGHT: Sam Ellis heads upfield in action for Israel in the 2013 FIL Women’s Lacrosse World Cup, held last month in Oshawa, Canada. The recently graduated Princeton University women’s lacrosse star helped Israel finish 8th as the squad made its inaugural appearance at the competition. Attacker Ellis scored nine points in the tourney on four goals and five assists.

INAUGURAL FLIGHT: Sam Ellis heads upfield in action for Israel in the 2013 FIL Women’s Lacrosse World Cup, held last month in Oshawa, Canada. The recently graduated Princeton University women’s lacrosse star helped Israel finish 8th as the squad made its inaugural appearance at the competition. Attacker Ellis scored nine points in the tourney on four goals and five assists.

Having first visited Israel when she was 10, Sam Ellis came back to the country last month.

The return trip, though, was no vacation as Ellis was in Tel Aviv for a training camp with the Israeli squad as it prepared for the 2013 FIL (Federation of International Lacrosse) Women’s Lacrosse World Cup.

“Our week in Israel was great,” said Ellis, a Princeton University women’s lacrosse star who wrapped up her Tiger career this spring with 20 points on 16 goals and four assists in her senior campaign.

“The chemistry was instant from day one. The coaches did a great job of picking the team. No matter how hot and tired we were, we had a good time. We had only 18 players and 2 alternates so we couldn’t scrimmage. We started with basic drills. We did a lot of 7-on-7. We grew a lot as a team over the week.”

Ellis’s appreciation for Israel grew as the team got to do some sightseeing and interact with the people.

“We went to the beach,” said Ellis. “We went to the Dead Sea. We went to Jerusalem, we saw the Wailing Wall and the Holocaust museum. We got to explore Tel Aviv, going to markets and buying souvenirs for our families. We were exposed to religion and aspects of Judaism. We saw what a big event Shabbat (the Jewish sabbath) is. On Friday afternoon, the stores start closing down and everything shuts down through Saturday. It is not just a religious thing, it is part of the culture. We saw that everyone does it and that it is a way of life.”

The exposure to Israeli culture helped Ellis and her teammates bring a special spirit into the competition, which took place in Oshawa, Canada from July 10-20.

“It was very interesting to find a spot with a new team,” said Ellis, a 5’5 attacker who hails from Bryn Mawr, Pa.

“You get in and you show what you can do and at the same time you look to work together with other players. There was no rivalry between the players; everyone was happy to play with each other. There was a communal bond; everyone was just wanting to represent Israel. We wanted to make a splash and make a name for Israeli lacrosse.”

Playing in its inaugural World Cup, Israel achieved that goal, turning heads as it went 4-1 in pool play and finished eighth overall in the tourney.

The Israelis got off on the right foot as they topped Germany 15-6 in their opener.

“It was tremendous,” recalled Ellis. “It was the first game for Israel in FIL competition and it was against a country we had a history with. We were ready to show everyone what we were about. It was amazing, it set the tempo for us.”

While Ellis was thrilled to contribute a goal and an assist in the victory over the Germans, she was more focused on the team’s success.

“In college, statistics are seen as a measure of contribution,” said Ellis, who ended up playing in five games at the competition, totaling nine points on four goals and five assists.

“It is a different vibe with a national team. You are representing something more than a university, you are representing a country. It was such a team effort, you want to win as a team.”

Israel did win in the first round of the playoffs, topping New Zealand. 12-9. The team, though, fell 17-5 to Canada in the quarterfinals, and then lost 9-7 to Scotland in a consolation game.

“The Scotland game was tough,” said Ellis, noting that Israel had topped the Scots 13-6 in pool play. “We definitely wanted to do better. I have to compliment them, they were definitely better the second time we played them.”

Due to the loss to Scotland, Israel was slated to play the Haudenosaunee Nation in the tourney’s seventh place game. That contest never took place as Israel forfeited because the game was slated for Saturday, during the Jewish sabbath.

“We were hopeful that the FIL would change the schedule,” said Ellis. “We learned on Thursday that we wouldn’t be playing on Saturday. The team that was playing us was very understanding of our issue. I believe our country did the right thing. It is such a part of the culture; it was the right thing to do for the country. Hopefully, the FIL will be more flexible in the future.”

While Ellis was disappointed that she and her teammates didn’t get the chance to play that final game, she leaves Canada with fond memories.

“It was a really cool experience,” asserted Ellis. “I still think we represented our country to the fullest. If we had been with each other longer, I think we would have done better and cleaned up some things. It was fun being around the greatest players in the world, you not only played against them but you saw them around because we stayed close to each other. It is great to be a part of a sport that is growing and game that I love so much.”

And Ellis’s love for Israel grew as a result of the experience. “I feel much more connected to Israel,” said Ellis, who hopes to keep involved with national program. “I am looking forward to going back there soon.”

GOLDEN STATE: Drew Hoffenberg looks for the ball in action last fall for the Princeton University men’s water polo team. Last month, Hoffenberg helped the Team USA take gold in the men’s open competition at the Maccabiah Games in Israel. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GOLDEN STATE: Drew Hoffenberg looks for the ball in action last fall for the Princeton University men’s water polo team. Last month, Hoffenberg helped the Team USA take gold in the men’s open competition at the Maccabiah Games in Israel.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Drew Hoffenberg knew that Team USA had plenty of talent but he wasn’t sure how the squad would stack up against the competition on the eve of starting play in the Maccabiah Games in Israel.

“Before the first game, we didn’t really know how good the other teams were,” said Hoffenberg, a rising junior star for the Princeton University men’s squad.

“We had some days of common training with Italy and Hungary so we got to scrimmage and go up and down the pool with them. We didn’t know about Brazil and Israel.”

By routing Italy 30-2 on July 19 to start the men’s open competition, the U.S. team proved it was very good.

“From that moment, the others were scared and intimidated by us,” said Hoffenberg. “We were the team to beat.”

Nobody beat Team USA as the squad went 5-0 in round-robin play and then topped Israel 9-3 in the gold medal game.

In reflecting on his role for the triumphant squad, Hoffenberg said he tried to be more of a playmaker than a scorer.

“I was more of a facilitator,” said attacker Hoffenberg, a native of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. who has piled up 110 goals and 69 assists in his first two seasons with Princeton in earning All-America Honorable Mention honors both years.

“We had two two-meter guys who were about 6’5, 240 and nobody was able to deal with them, they were scoring five or six goals a game. We wanted to try to get the ball to them as much as possible. We also worked on ball movement and passing when teams sagged on them.”

The team had to work hard to get up to speed as it had only played together in a week-long training camp in San Diego this June prior to leaving for Israel.

“We only had two hours every morning,” recalled Hoffenberg. “We had to swim to get in shape and since we had never played together, we had to work on our plays. It definitely helped us to get to know each other better. We were able to work on little things, knowing where guys like the ball and things like that.

The players got to know Israel when they weren’t in the pool. “The Maccabiah USA had an Israel Connect program,” said Hoffenberg.

“We would practice from 6-8 a.m. and then we would get on a bus and see the country. We saw Masada, the Dead Sea, and the Wailing Wall. The sights were all awesome, there is so much history there.”

The U.S. players also felt a lot of support from the Israeli people. “Everyone loved the Maccabiah Games athletes, they were always coming up and taking pictures with us,” said Hoffenberg.  “We got to hang out in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.”

Defending gold medalist Israel proved to be the main obstacle for the U.S. In round-robin play, the U.S. prevailed 16-6 before meeting up again with the hosts in the gold medal game.

“Israel had beaten Great Britain 22-0 in their first game so we were worried about them,” said Hoffenberg. “We were able to beat them by 10 goals so that gave us confidence.”

Despite bringing that confidence into the rematch, Team USA was not taking anything for granted.

“We knew they were a good team; 10 goals sounds like a lot but the first game felt closer,” said Hoffenberg.

“It was more like a 4-goal game for most of it. We knew they would have more fans for the final and that they would be more psyched. We still had to be prepared.”

The gold medal match was close at the start before the U.S. broke open the contest.

“The game got off to a slow start, I think it was 1-1 after the first quarter,” recalled Hoffenberg.

“We had a 5-0 run and we just took off. Our goalie played great, you are not going to lose too many games when you give up only three goals.”

The close-knit United States team reveled in the victory. “It was really fun; we threw the coach into the pool,” said Hoffenberg.

“It was a really great group of guys. It meant a lot; it was the first big national tournament I have ever won. It was awesome. Everyone was close in age and everyone got along. There was no bickering, everyone was willing to make the extra pass and talk to each other in the water.”

Hoffenberg will be bringing a extra level of conditioning and confidence when he returns to Princeton later this month to start preseason training with the Tigers.

“I know that I will have an advantage over the other guys at the start, I won’t have to worry as much about fitness,” said Hoffenberg, who will be serving as a captain of the Tigers. “I can talk to the coaches about strategy.”

In Hoffenberg’s view, Princeton should be a force in tournament play this fall.

“The team should be really good, we are bringing in four freshmen who are good,” added Hoffenberg. “It should be fun. You never know in the east, there are always four or five good teams. As long as we are in the mix, we have a chance.”

BACK FOR MORE: Will Stange heads to victory in a backstroke race last winter for the Princeton High boys’ swim team. This summer, rising PHS senior Stange picked up plenty of wins in his 11th season with the Community Park Bluefish. He culminated the season by placing first in both the 18-and-under 50 backstroke and 50 butterfly and taking second in the 100 individual medley at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet in late July. Stange then headed to Plantation, Fla. to compete for the Princeton Piranhas in the Southern Zone Senior Long Course Championships and later travelled west to Irvine, Calif. to swim in the Junior Nationals. Stange is looking forward to a big final season at PHS.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BACK FOR MORE: Will Stange heads to victory in a backstroke race last winter for the Princeton High boys’ swim team. This summer, rising PHS senior Stange picked up plenty of wins in his 11th season with the Community Park Bluefish. He culminated the season by placing first in both the 18-and-under 50 backstroke and 50 butterfly and taking second in the 100 individual medley at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet in late July. Stange then headed to Plantation, Fla. to compete for the Princeton Piranhas in the Southern Zone Senior Long Course Championships and later travelled west to Irvine, Calif. to swim in the Junior Nationals. Stange is looking forward to a big final season at PHS. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Will Stange got his start in swimming with the Community Park Bluefish as a 6-year-old.

Becoming a consistent winner that first summer after obtaining some goggles, Stange has come a long way in the sport.

He started swimming year-round for the Princeton Piranhas club and has competed in a number of regional and national competitions.

Joining the Princeton High boys’ squad in the 2010-11 season, Stange emerged as a standout from his first meet. In his sophomore year, he helped the Little Tigers go undefeated on the way to the program’s first state Public B title. As a junior, Stange won the 100 back and took second in the 100 butterfly to help PHS win its third straight boys’ title at the Mercer County Swimming Championships.

As this summer rolled around, rising PHS senior Stange was excited for
another season with his first team.

“I have been doing it for 11 years and I always look forward to it,” said Stange, referring to the Bluefish. “I know pretty much everyone on the team, it is a lot of fun.”

Stange had a lot of fun for the Bluefish at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet in late July, placing first in both the 18-and-under 50 backstroke and 50 butterfly while taking second in the 100 individual medley.

“I would have liked to win every event,” said Stange. “Jamie Finnegan [of Flemington Raritan] got me in the IM on the breaststroke. I was happy with the back and the fly.”

After wrapping up the PASDA season, Stange headed to Plantation, Fla. to compete for the Piranhas in the Southern Zone Senior Long Course Championships and then travelled west to Irvine, Calif. to swim in the Junior Nationals.

Going against some of the top swimmers in the nation in the California meet, Stange acquitted himself well.

“The 200 back is my main event; I did a 2:07,” said Stange, noting that his personal record is 2:05.5.

“I was looking for the senior national cut of 2:04.99. I also did the 100 back, 100 fly, and 200 free. I set PRs in the 100 fly and the 200 free.”

Stange is planning to do some big things in his final season at PHS.

“I am really looking forward to it,” said Stange. “I want to break the 100 back and 200 free records, they are the only ones to break after the state championship meet our sophomore year.”

The Little Tigers are looking for another state championship. “We are going for it; we talk about it,” said Stange, who helped PHS win its fifth straight Public B Central Jersey sectional title this past winter. “We are going to take it one meet at a time.”

Having come so far in swimming since starting with the Bluefish, Stange has his sights set on competing in college and beyond.

“I am looking at a number of schools, both D-3 and D-1,” said Stange, who is in the thick of the recruiting process.

“I definitely want to swim through college and then I would like to swim at the 2016 Olympic trials.”

AIMING HIGH: Sophia Monaghan prepares to unload the ball in action for the Tiger Aquatics water polo club team. The Princeton resident and former Lawrenceville School standout has had a busy summer. She coached and starred for the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings, winning two titles at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet in late July. After completing that season, she headed to California where she helped her Tiger Aquatics team take 9th in the gold division at the Junior Olympics. Now she is preparing to start her freshman season with the Stanford University women’s water polo team.

AIMING HIGH: Sophia Monaghan prepares to unload the ball in action for the Tiger Aquatics water polo club team. The Princeton resident and former Lawrenceville School standout has had a busy summer. She coached and starred for the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings, winning two titles at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet in late July. After completing that season, she headed to California where she helped her Tiger Aquatics team take 9th in the gold division at the Junior Olympics. Now she is preparing to start her freshman season with the Stanford University women’s water polo team.

For Sophia Monaghan, coaching was a primary focus of her experience this summer in her 10th and final campaign with the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings.

“I came into this season more as a coach than as a swimmer,” said Monaghan, who guided the 10-and-under swimmers for the Lemmings.

“I had a very good group. I don’t think I had a swimmer who came to practice who didn’t improve or have fun. It is so rewarding to have had the 10-and-under swimmers; it is an age group where they really look up to the older kids. My being able to swim helped. They would come up and say they were going to watch my race. I would support them and then they would cheer me on. It is not professional coaching; it is a community thing.”

Monaghan still had time to earn cheers for swimming, taking first in both the 18-and-under 50 freestyle and 50 backstroke and placing third in the 50 fly at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet in late July.

“I just wanted to be able to swim fast and do it for fun,” said Monaghan. who graduated from the Lawrenceville School this spring and is headed to Stanford University where she will be a member of the Cardinal women’s water polo team.

“When I was younger, the PASDA meet was a big deal. It definitely made me want to swim. Swimming in a year-round club can be tough; some kids burn out. The sense of community and encouragement that you get at Nassau makes kids want to compete. It helped shape me as an athlete and as a person.”

For Monaghan, that competitiveness manifested itself in water polo as she was a four-year starter for the Lawrenceville team and rose through the Olympic Development Program, playing for the 2012 USA Women’s Water Polo Junior team in the Under-19 Pan American Championship last summer in Montreal, Canada.

After finishing the PASDA meet, Monaghan headed to California to compete with her Tiger Aquatics water polo club team in the Junior Olympics.

“The team has a range of players; water polo is growing on the east coast,” said Monaghan.

“We were 9th in the gold division. We were pretty happy with that. We weren’t happy with some of our close losses. The junior national team is a lot more of an individual focus. The Junior Olympics is a team and club focus. It is more fun. You are playing to win with your team rather than trying to make a team.”

Playing with the national program, though, helped put Monaghan on the path to college water polo.

“It started in my freshman and sophomore year when I started doing Olympic development and got to go out to California,” said Monaghan. “I saw how much I loved the sport and I realized that I could play with the girls out there.”

Monaghan fell in love with Stanford years ago and was thrilled to get recruited by the Pacific 12 power.

“I had wanted to go there as a school since 7th or 8th grade, it was always a dream of mine,” said Monaghan, who was a team captain for Lawrenceville and helped the Big Red go 18-1 last winter on their way to winning the prestigious Beast of the East Tournament.

“They have been ranked No. 1 for water polo. It didn’t always seem realistic. When it got to be a possibility, I realized that I wanted to play at the highest level of water polo. I wanted to give myself the chance to be the best water polo player I can be.”

As Monaghan looks forward to starting her college career next month, she knows she has to raise to the level of her game.

“A big challenge is seeing how I play going from east to west coast; it is a really different game out there,” said Monaghan, a 5’9 center-defender.

“We only have three or four girls that are not from California. I am going into this year looking to learn as much as I can. I don’t know how much playing time I am going to get; we have Olympians and it is a star-studded team. My goal is to get in and play and show some improvement.”

August 7, 2013
LEARNING CURVE: Ashley Higginson races through a curve during her illustrious Princeton University track career. Higginson, a 2011 Princeton alum, fell just short of making the U.S. team in the steeplechase for the 2012 London Olympics. Learning from that experience, Higginson placed second in the steeplechase at this year’s USA Track and Field championships in Des Moines, Iowa and will get her shot at international glory as she competes at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Moscow, Russia this week.  (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

LEARNING CURVE: Ashley Higginson races through a curve during her illustrious Princeton University track career. Higginson, a 2011 Princeton alum, fell just short of making the U.S. team in the steeplechase for the 2012 London Olympics. Learning from that experience, Higginson placed second in the steeplechase at this year’s USA Track and Field championships in Des Moines, Iowa and will get her shot at international glory as she competes at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Moscow, Russia this week.
(Photo provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Ashley Higginson’s dream of competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics died in the backstretch at Hayward Field last July as she placed fourth in the steeplechase at the U.S. trials, just missing the top-3 finish required to book a spot to the London Games.

While the former Princeton University standout was disappointed to fall just short of the Olympics, she took positives from the experience.

“There was a mix of emotions,” said Higginson, a 2011 Princeton grad who was an All American in the steeplechase for the Tigers and was an eight-time Ivy League champion, winning the indoor mile, 3,000 and 5,000 as well as the outdoor 3,000 and 5,000 and the steeplechase three times.

“I learned a lot. I set a personal record by so much in the race. I did a lot more than people expected.”

Applying the lessons that she learned from the trials, Higginson recently  placed second in the steeplechase at this year’s USA Track and Field championships in Des Moines, Iowa and will get her shot at international glory as she competes at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Moscow, Russia this week.

“This year I came in a lot more confident and prepared,” said Higginson,” who clocked a time of 9:46.25 in the 3,000-meter event at the nationals in earning her trip to Moscow. “Last year, it was more of a dream. Now I believe I deserve to be in the top 3 and I wanted to take ownership.”

For Higginson, a native of Colts Neck, joining the New Jersey-New York Track Club after graduation from Princeton helped her take things to another level.

“My intensity went way up,” said Higginson, who was a recipient of the 2011 C. Otto von Kienbusch Award, the
highest senior female student-athlete award at Princeton.

“I have to commend coach Farrell [longtime Princeton women’s coach Peter Farrell] for his ability to cultivate great athletes, students and girls. He keeps them fresh, you need to be balanced in college.”

In working with NJ-NY, Higginson was able to make a greater commitment to her training. “It wasn’t the mileage as much as the intensity,” said Higginson.

“In college, we would have two track workouts a week and a long run on Saturday. We would do repeat 800s and miles. With NJ-NY, we do three days of speed training, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Monday is a strength day with 800s and 1000s. On Wednesday, we do a four or five-mile tempo run in the morning and then do 200s on the track in the afternoon. On Friday, we do speed work; it is the lactic attack. We do hard 800s.”

Higginson decided to start law school because she didn’t want to have all of her eggs in one basket.

“I made a lot of decisions this year; I decided to stay in New Jersey and start law school at Rutgers,” said Higginson, who had been accepted at the University of Colorado law school in 2011 and contemplated relocating to Boulder.

“It was reaffirming to do things my way and have it all work out. It was hard in the fall, Gags [NJ-NY coach Frank Gagliano] was understanding and changed the schedule around for me. You can always have a bad week of school, running, or social life so it is good if you have something else to focus on instead of one thing.”

Higginson had a good week in Des Moines at the U.S. championships as she cruised to a fourth-place finish in her heat and then coolly executed her race plan to earn her second place finish in the championship race.

“Going into final we thought one or two athletes would take it out fast,” said Higginson.

If one went, I could sit back but if two went out I would have to go with them. Only one went out fast and I stayed in the pack. I made my move with 600 meters to go. I was so relieved to make it.”

Since making the worlds, Higginson has been fine-tuning things. “I am sharpening. I went over to Europe; I had one steeple that didn’t go well,” said Higginson.

“I also did a 1,500 (a 4:11.82 in Heusden, Belgium) and mile (a 4:34.47 in Dublin, Ireland) and had PRs in both. I am doing speed work, lowering my mileage and sleeping more. Tapering is tough, especially going from end of June to mid-August. That is a long time, I needed to have some intensity in the middle of that.”

As Higginson looks ahead to the Moscow competition, she knows it will take mental toughness to make an impact.

“I am shooting for a time and to make the final,” said Higginson. “We had two Americans (Emma Coburn and Bridget Franek) in the Olympic final and I think we will be prepared to medal in 2016. It will be hard for me to medal this year. As coach Farrell always said, just run your seed time in the final and be your best self on the day.”

Higginson, for her part, is prepared to make her dream of competing at the Olympics a reality as she aims for a spot in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Games.

“I graduate from law school in 2015; I have a year to train full time,” said Higginson. “I am very surprised and thrilled at how far I have come. It is nice to see what you can do when you really put time into it.”

GOLD RUSH: Holly McGarvie Reilly races upfield for the U.S. women’s national lacrosse team. Reilly, 2009 Princeton alum who starred in lacrosse and field hockey for the Tigers, helped the U.S. win the gold medal at the recently held 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s World Cup in Oshawa, Ontario. It was the second straight World Cup title for the U.S. and seventh overall. Reilly was a member of the U.S. team that edged Australia 8-7 to win the 2009 World Cup held in Prague, Hungary. (Photo by John Strohsacker, provided courtesy of US Lacrosse)

GOLD RUSH: Holly McGarvie Reilly races upfield for the U.S. women’s national lacrosse team. Reilly, 2009 Princeton alum who starred in lacrosse and field hockey for the Tigers, helped the U.S. win the gold medal at the recently held 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s World Cup in Oshawa, Ontario. It was the second straight World Cup title for the U.S. and seventh overall. Reilly was a member of the U.S. team that edged Australia 8-7 to win the 2009 World Cup held in Prague, Hungary. (Photo by John Strohsacker, provided courtesy of US Lacrosse)

As the U.S. squad underwent its final preparations before starting play in the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s World Cup, Holly McGarvie Reilly was cautiously optimistic.

“It was definitely go time; it was five or six days of really tough practices and then we tapered,” said Reilly, a 2009 Princeton alum who starred in lacrosse and field hockey for the Tigers.

“We were putting in some new offensive and defensive strategies. It was a mental and physical grind. We were working very, very hard. There were some struggles; some days the defense was not doing well and other times the offense was off. We just wanted to play another team, we were sick of playing against each other. The practices were tougher than games and that’s what you want.”

The U.S. proved to be very tough in the competition held in Oshawa, Ontario, going 7-0 in the way to the gold medal, outscoring its foes 127-34 including a 19-5 rout of host Canada in the championship game. It was the second straight World Cup title for the U.S. and seventh overall.

Reilly, though, will tell you that it wasn’t as easy as it may have looked for the U.S.

“Some people I knew just kept up with the scores but they didn’t tell the whole story,” said defender Reilly, who was a member of the U.S. team that edged Australia 8-7 to win the 2009 World Cup held in Prague, Hungary.

“We still had to work for that. It was due to how we we trained to make that happen. Everyone really bought into what we were trying to do. There were pockets of challenge. We had some ups and downs. We improved as  we went on.”

It was a challenge for Reilly to get up to speed as she has been essentially training on her own since the last World Cup.

“I was ready to go fitness wise,” said Reilly, who resides near San Diego where her husband Brendan Reilly, a former Princeton lacrosse player, is stationed with the Marines.

“For me, the toughest thing was jumping back into a whole game. My stick skills could have been more precise. I struggled at first with the team game. I had to learn that this is my slide and when to talk to people. I had to work extra hard on communication.”

As Reilly took the field for the championship game, she was ready to savor the day.

“I didn’t feel the anxiety that I felt four years ago when I had never been in that position,” said Reilly. “We have got this, we have done this before.

But since this team has really become my team, I wanted to enjoy the moment.”

The gold medal game turned out to be very enjoyable for the U.S. as it jumped out to a 14-2 halftime lead on the way to its 19-5 triumph.

“I remember coming in at half and Ricky [U.S. head coach Ricky Fried] saying we were not going to change much and to just keep playing that way,” said Reilly with a laugh.

“We wanted to show the world the best lacrosse that had been played. I was really happy for the team and the coaches, especially the girls who had never won gold medals before.  Four years ago it was 8-7 and we didn’t know if we were going to win. We were up 19-5 and we knew that we were going to win 20 minutes before the game ended.”

While Reilly acknowledges that the U.S. team was loaded with talent, she points to chemistry as a key factor in its run to the title.

“I think it was the selfless nature of the team; Katie Rowan got eight goals in the final but you wouldn’t even know it,” said Reilly, who played in every game at the World Cup and had one goal, was first on the team in caused turnovers with five, third on the team in draw controls with eight, and third in ground balls with seven.

“It was like we scored again, let’s score another. Everyone was enjoying it and having fun. I give the coaches credit for creating a team culture where everyone wanted to work so hard and became so unified. I wish we could play seven more games.”

For Reilly, the experience of winning a second gold medal will be memorable for more than just the games.

“Four years ago I took as many pictures as I could and wrote down a lot of things in a journal,” said Reilly, who plans to keep playing for the U.S. program on a year-to-year basis.

“This year I took fewer pictures and wrote less. I just wanted to soak it in. I enjoyed being with the team, going on bus rides, being goofy, doing karaoke and inside jokes. Of course, playing was a big part of this. These are some of my closest friends in the world and I will take those memories with me.”

LEGEND OF THE FALL: Dick Kazmaier poses during his legendary Princeton University football career. Kazmaier, the 1951 Heisman Trophy winner, died last week at the age of 82, sparking tributes to both his sterling character and athletic  greatness. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

LEGEND OF THE FALL: Dick Kazmaier poses during his legendary Princeton University football career. Kazmaier, the 1951 Heisman Trophy winner, died last week at the age of 82, sparking tributes to both his sterling character and athletic
greatness. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

In a week where the sports headlines were dominated by sordid tales of a racial slur uttered by Riley Cooper of the Philadelphia Eagles, Alex Rodriguez’s impending suspension from baseball due to the continued use of performance enhancing drugs, and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel’s off-field misadventures, it stood as a mere footnote.

But the passing of Princeton University football legend and 1951 Heisman recipient Dick Kazmaier on August 1 shines a light on a simpler time where such virtues as humility, intelligence, and loyalty coexisted with incredible athletic success.

Kazmaier, who was 82 at the time of his death from heart and lung disease, surely produced a sporting career for the ages.

The native of Maumee, Ohio rose from a 155-pounder buried on the depth chart as a freshman in 1948 to the top of the college football world by the fall of 1951.

Featured on the cover of Time Magazine that year, Kazmaier went on to win the Heisman Trophy in a landslide as he led Princeton to a second straight 9-0 campaign. He earned 1,777 points in the Heisman 1951 vote, which at the time was a record by more than 460 points. He also won the Maxwell Award that season.

The quintessential tailback in the single wing, Kazmaier led the nation in both total offense and passing accuracy that season; rushing for 861 yards and completing 123 passes for 960 yards and 13 touchdowns. By his graduation, he was Princeton’s all-time leader in rushing (1,950 career yards) and ranked second in passing (2,404 career yards). His 59.5 career completion percentage still ranks third all-time at Princeton.

While Kazmaier’s football accomplishments were staggering, they were matched by his character and rectitude off the field.

The 1952 Princeton graduate eschewed the NFL to attend Harvard Business School. He eventually founded Kazmaier Associates, Inc., a Concord, Massachusetts firm that has invested in, managed and consulted for sports marketing and sports product manufacturing and marketing businesses since its founding in 1975.

Kazmaier served his country as an ensign in the United States Navy. He also served as chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

He was also a devoted family man. He and wife Patricia had six daughters: Kathy L. Donnelly, Kristen Kazmaier Fisher, Michele S. Kazmaier, Patricia J. Kazmaier-Sandt ’86, Susan M. Kazmaier ’81 and Kimberly Picard ’77. Three daughters were Princeton graduates, including former women’s ice hockey standout Patricia (Patty) Kazmaier, a four-year varsity ice hockey letterwinner who anchored the Princeton defense and led the Tigers to the Ivy League championship in three consecutive seasons (1981-82 through 1983-84), while earning multiple league honors.

Patty Kazmaier died of a rare blood disease in 1990; in her honor, her father, in association with the USA Hockey Foundation, created the Patty Kazmaier Award. First given in 1998, the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award is presented annually to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey. Other selection criteria include outstanding individual and team skills, sportsmanship, performance in the clutch, personal character, competitiveness and a love of hockey.

It is Kazmaier’s personal qualities as much as his athletic achievements that were cited as he was remembered by members of the Princeton family.

“Today Princeton University, the Tiger Athletic Program and Tiger Nation are mourning the loss of Dick Kazmaier ’52, one of our most accomplished student-athlete icons of the 20th Century,” said Director of Athletics Gary Walters ’67 as quoted on the Princeton Athletics website.

“In addition to having won the Heisman, #42’s most enduring trait for me was that he also was a dignified ‘Wise Man.’ Notwithstanding all of the achievements in his athletic, business and philanthropic endeavors, Dick remained one of the most self-effacing individuals I have ever met. He never sought the spotlight and always led in a thoughtful and ethical manner.”

A friend to both the University and the football program over the years, Kazmaier served as a Princeton trustee, as well as a member of the Princeton Varsity Club Board of Directors. He had visited with the team as recently as prior to the 2011 Harvard game, as well as following the 2010 victory over Lafayette, the first victory for current head coach Bob Surace.

“My admiration for Dick Kazmaier goes well beyond the respect earned by his being the greatest football player in the unmatched history of our Princeton program,” said Surace ’90 in remarks on the Princeton website.

“Whenever I talk to our team about Dick Kazmaier, it is not about the Heisman, the undefeated seasons, statues or awards. It is about the traits that Dick shared with me in every communication we had, the qualities that make up the ideal Princeton man — character, dignity, strength, intelligence, humility, unselfishness, commitment and passion to be exceptional in every area of life. “

His legacy was cemented in Princeton lore in 2008 when the school permanently retired the number ‘42’ from ever being used again by any Tiger athlete;  that number was shared by two of its most historic alumni, Kazmaier and Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Bradley ’65.

In an October 22, 2008 Town Topics story on the retirement of the ’42,’ Kazmaier acknowledged that he was moved by the honor.

“I have respected 42 for a long time,” said Kazmaier. “This is very nice; it is valuable for football and Princeton athletics in general. It is a reminder that good things can happen and significant accomplishments can happen. It is something I am pleased to be identified with, the number is a symbol that achievement is worth working for and success can happen.”

True to character, Kazmaier emphasized the joint effort with his teammates, not his individual feats.

“In some sports, the individual can dominate but in football, you can’t do anything unless everybody is doing the right thing at the right time,” said Kazmaier. “I happened to have the ball the most and I did some things with it and that’s what people see.”

In putting together that story, this reporter got a first-hand exposure to Kazmaier’s gentlemanly nature. He responded quickly to an e-mail request for an interview, noting that he was taking his car in for service at 8:00 a.m. later that week and would have plenty of time to talk then if that wasn’t too early.

The interview was confirmed and Kazmaier spent 40 minutes graciously answering all of of my questions, although he was uncomfortable dwelling on his honors and awards. At the end, he thanked me for my interest and giving him the chance to relive some of those memories.

But as I told him that morning, no, thank you, Mr. Kazmaier.

MAKING HIS MARK: Mark Aziz of Ivy Inn, with the ball, establishes position in the paint against Bobby Brackett of Sneakers Plus last week in the best-of-three 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. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING HIS MARK: Mark Aziz of Ivy Inn, with the ball, establishes position in the paint against Bobby Brackett of Sneakers Plus last week in the best-of-three 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. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Mark Aziz’s thoughts went back to last year as the Ivy Inn squad took the court last Wednesday against Sneakers Plus with a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League.

“We lost to Winberie’s in three so we knew,” said Aziz. “That is not a feeling we wanted to have again. Last year, I had a big turnover that helped cause it.”

When Ivy Inn took a 21-18 lead into halftime against Sneakers Plus on Wednesday at Community Park, Aziz and his teammates weren’t about to let the title slip out of their grasp.

“We knew we didn’t want to take it to three,” said center Aziz. “We got ahead in the first half and just kept it strong so we could close it out today. We just wanted to get in and out in two games; that was our mindset.”

Ivy Inn finished strong, pulling out a 41-34 win to earn the title, the fourth in six years for the squad.

The win had a special meaning since the core of the Ivy Inn team is former College of New Jersey players while the Sneakers Plus entry is comprised of current TCNJ performers.

“This team was us eight years ago; it is almost like little brother, big brother,” said the 6’7, 225-pound Aziz, who scored 815 points in his career with the Lions from 2004-2008 and is an assistant coach for the TCNJ program.

“You will give them a run but you are going to try to get them at the end. That is not a knock in them. We coach them and we all come from the same program and they are going to be us in eight years. You have got to learn the ropes, though. I knew I couldn’t go back next year with the knowledge that they beat me. It would be like my younger brother beating me.”

The powerful Aziz taught his younger brothers some lessons in the finale on Wednesday, scoring 11 points in the second half as Ivy Inn outscored Sneakers Plus 20-16 over the final 20 minutes of the contest.

“I was finding my space, I was creating space for myself and finding my shot,” said Aziz, who ended the evening with a game-high 15 points.

“That is what helped me out, just attacking the basket. I knew it was going to go in eventually so I just kept being aggressive and playing my game.”

As a result of his clutch play, Aziz was named as the Foreal Wooten Playoff MVP. In reflecting on the honor, Aziz spread the credit to his teammates.

“It just means that we won, this is a representation of my input to the team,” said Aziz, who previously scored 17 points as Ivy Inn edged Winberie’s 55-50 in the semis to get some measure of revenge for last year’s championship loss.

“Obviously if we didn’t win, I wouldn’t get it so it is an extension of what we did during the year and in the playoffs.”

In the view of Ivy Inn manager and forward Bobby Davison, Aziz was the obvious choice for MVP.

“Truth be told, Mark sent a text message earlier on saying that his back hurt and that he was going to need a lot of help tonight,” said Davison.

“He didn’t warm up before the game tonight because he was hurting. He loosened up as the game went on. I can’t say enough about the guy. He does everything for us; he is our centerpiece down low.  Not having Sherm [Brittingham] tonight, everybody had to step up. It started with Mark. He is great.”

Aziz, for his part, is proud of how Ivy Inn has stepped up over the years in the summer league.

“Most of us live in the area and it is a sense of pride when we come out here and play,” said Aziz of the squad which features such stalwarts as Shahid Abdul-Karim, Bobby Davison, Buddy Thomas, and Dave Boudwin.

“The guys that make up the team to Scott [Findlay] coming in and getting into the Hall of Fame to the guys at Ivy Inn that sponsor us; it is a community representation on the court and that is what we stand for.”

SWEEP AWAY: Bobby Davison of Ivy Inn dribbles upcourt against Alex Fox of Sneakers Plus last week in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League championship series. Former Princeton High and College of New Jersey standout Davison provided strong defense and leadership as Ivy Inn posted a 2-0 sweep over Sneakers Plus to win its fourth summer league title in the last six years.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SWEEP AWAY: Bobby Davison of Ivy Inn dribbles upcourt against Alex Fox of Sneakers Plus last week in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League championship series. Former Princeton High and College of New Jersey standout Davison provided strong defense and leadership as Ivy Inn posted a 2-0 sweep over Sneakers Plus to win its fourth summer league title in the last six years. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Bobby Davison scored only two points but that was right in line with the game plan as Ivy Inn played Sneakers Plus last Wednesday in Game 2 of the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League championship series.

“All season, it was defense, defense, defense,” said Davison, a bruising forward and founding manager of Ivy Inn.

“Everything starts on the defensive end and our offense will eventually come as we get into the game. We started slow throughout the year. We held the teams that we played to the least points. Defense was our focal point the entire year.  That was our biggest thing. We wanted to shut down Skye [Ettin]; we knew that after Game 1 that he was their go-to guy and if we could limit his opportunities, we were going to have a shot.”

Davison, along with Mark Aziz, Buddy Thomas and Dave Boudwin, controlled the paint as Ivy Inn stifled Sneakers Plus 41-34 to sweep the best-of-three series 2-0.

The former Princeton High and College of New Jersey standout was thrilled to get another shot at the title in the wake of Ivy Inn’s loss to Winberie’s in the 2012 championship series.

“It gave me a lot of motivation because I didn’t have an opportunity to play in the finals last year because I had work,” said Davison, an officer with the East Windsor police department.

“Getting our opportunity to come back this year, I was highly motivated to win.”

Experience helped Ivy Inn seize opportunity as it won its fourth summer league crown in the last six years.

“It wasn’t too long ago that I was a freshman at TCNJ; I brought these guys together,” recalled Davison, a 2006 TCNJ alum who ended his Lions career with 666 rebounds, fifth-best in program history.

“We have been able to keep for the most part a nucleus. We would make it to the finals or we would win the regular season and then lose in the playoffs because we just didn’t have the experience. Now, we have all veterans on the team. We know what we can do and what we can’t do. It shows.”

Ivy Inn is showing the way for Sneakers Plus, which is comprised of current TCNJ players and is led by Ettin, a former PHS star like Davison.

“There is no team that I would rather see in the finals; I am happy for these guys,” said Davison.

“As we were playing, going up and down we were talking to each other and giving pointers here and there. Don’t fight among yourselves, stay together.  There is no other team that we are going to reach across the table like that. We love seeing them here. We will be there in the wintertime to root them on and support them.”

The Sneakers Plus group, though, has a long way to go before they become boys of summer like their Ivy Inn brethren.

“If you look at the average age of the league, we are one of the oldest teams and we only have one guy over 30,” said Davison.

“A lot of people year in, year out, count us out and think we are not going to come back and get another one. We were able to turn back the clocks and grab another one this year. You never know. It is a testament to the guys. I think we collectively have a good group of guys. Everybody contributes.”

July 31, 2013
SABER RATTLING: Princeton University women’s fencing star Eliza Stone ’13 is being interviewed after a recent triumph. Next week, the saber specialist will be competing in the World Fencing Championships in Budapest Hungary, which runs from August 5-12.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

SABER RATTLING: Princeton University women’s fencing star Eliza Stone ’13 is being interviewed after a recent triumph. Next week, the saber specialist will be competing in the World Fencing Championships in Budapest Hungary, which runs from August 5-12. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

In her first three seasons on the Princeton University fencing team, Eliza Stone had already put together a glittering resume.

The Chicago, Ill. native had placed eighth, second, and third in the saber at the NCAA championships to earn All-American honors and was also a three-time All-Ivy League performer.

But Stone decided she had to branch out to get the most out her fencing. “Coming into senior year, I realized that I would have to stop fencing at the end unless I started doing internationals,” said Stone.

“Everything in my fencing changed. Kat [sophomore teammate Katharine Holmes] and I made a pact to go for the senior national team. We decided to go for it together.”

Stone went to national competitions in the fall and competed internationally in England and France in January, piling up enough points to be in the mix to make the senior national team.

Upon returning to the U.S. to wrap up the college season, Stone won the saber at the NCAA championships and helped Princeton win the national combined team title.

In May, Stone was formally named to the U.S. saber team, having accumulated points at various tournaments through a system employed by U.S. Fencing during a window of time that closed in May.

Next week, Stone will be competing in the World Fencing Championships in Budapest Hungary, which runs from August 5-12.

In reflecting on making the national team, Stone is a bit stunned at how far she has come since making the pact with Holmes.

“It was definitely a good feeling, I was very happy,” said Stone. “It was great: I was not even on the point list at the beginning of the year. I was working my way steadily to make the team.”

For Stone, fencing has definitely been a family affair as she took up the sport at age 10 along with younger sister Gracie and younger brother Robert, both now saber All-American for Princeton along with their older sister.

“I did ballet a lot but I hated it,” said Stone. “My dad was trying to find something for us to do. He saw an ad for a fencing club downtown next to a pizza parlor. He told us about it and we were like fencing, OK. We all started at the same time.”

While Stone started out specializing in the epee, she turned to the saber due to family considerations.

“I went to epee and I thought this was pretty good,” said Stone. “My siblings were all doing saber and my dad said I don’t want to have to do different schedules for different weapons so I switched to saber.”

It didn’t take long for Stone to master her new weapon. “I started going to nationals,” said Stone.

“I started beating up my brother in practice so I loved the saber. I was beating the other boys in practice. I did my first national U-10 and I got a medal; I was in the top eight.”

While Stone was a force on the U.S. scene, she didn’t get the chance to make the same impact on the international stage.

“Fencing is really expensive and it is an individual sport,” said Stone. “You have to pay for the plane ride. I went to the nationals a few times a year but it is $2,000 a pop to go to international events and that wasn’t in my budget. I did go to the Cadet World Cup in Canada and won; I was thinking I should do more international events.”

Coming to Princeton in 2009, Stone put international competitions on the backburner as she concentrated on the college scene.

“It was tough going to tournaments every weekend and doing the schoolwork at college,” said Stone.

“I was home-schooled so going to the library and working on my own wasn’t that different. The academics was keeping me very busy and I was focused on the NCAA competition. I am here to study and I can only do it once.

The arrival of Holmes at Princeton changed Stone’s thinking on adding international events to her schedule.

“Kat came to Princeton when I was a junior,” said Stone. “I saw her as a freshman going off to internationals and still keeping up with academics. I saw it was possible. It kind of opened the door for me to do internationals.”

This winter, Stone closed her Princeton career in style, winning the NCAA championship in saber and helping the Tigers to the combined team title.

“It was like some sort of Disney movie where everything comes through at the end,” said Stone, reflecting on the NCAA competition held in San Antonio, Texas.

“I was in the top 8 in the NCAAs as a freshman and I was in the top 4 as a sophomore and junior. In my sophomore year, I got to the gold medal match. I made it my goal to get at least one gold medal.”

Seeing the Tigers achieve their goal of a team title was equally. if not more satisfying for Stone.

“For the team, it was the culmination of four years of work for me and the other seniors,” said Stone, who was later named as one of the recipients of the C. Otto von Kienbusch Award, the highest senior female student-athlete award at Princeton.

“We had been close, we knew we could do it. There is luck involved. There are lots of bouts and if the 5-4 decisions go against you, it can be tough. The guys left us in a good position to make a run for first. We knew we had the talent; we just had to have the right focus.”

In mid-June just after graduating from Princeton, Stone showed her focus as she took second at the Pan American Championships in an important tune-up for the worlds. Holmes joined her at the competition and took second in the epee.

“It was good that we went together; we were cheering each other,” said Stone, reflecting on Holmes’ presence in the meet held at in Cartagena, Colombia.

“We were supporting and helping each other. She lost 15-14 in the final to one of the Hurley sisters [Courtney]. I was down 10-2 in my final and got it to 15-12, going against an Olympian [Mariel Zagunis of the U.S.]”

As Stone looks ahead to the worlds, where she will be competing along with Holmes and two fellow Tigers alums, women’s epeeist May Lawrence ’02 and men’s epee performer Soren Thompson ’05, she is going all out.

“I am working on conditioning and trying to get in the best shape possible,” said Stone.

“The saber team will be going to camp in Poland for two weeks. We will be training with Ukrainians and some other international teams. Then we go directly to Budapest.”

Stone believes she can do some big things in Budapest. “After the Pan Am Championships, I am in the top 16,” said Stone. “I am allowed to skip the first day of competition and go directly into the second day. I am starting in the top 64; that is good but there is also pressure, I don’t want to lose my first match. I am hoping for the top 16.”

After the progress she has made this year, Stone is hoping to reach the top of her sport by earning a spot in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“I do want to go for Rio,” asserted Stone. “I am looking for a job. Two of the three Princeton fencers on the national team are training in New York City and I will work at a club with them. I will also train with my coach at Princeton.”

BIG KAT: Princeton University epee star Katharine Holmes hones her form. The 5’10 Holmes, a rising junior, is looking to come up big next week at the World Fencing Championships in Budapest Hungary.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

BIG KAT: Princeton University epee star Katharine Holmes hones her form. The 5’10 Holmes, a rising junior, is looking to come up big next week at the World Fencing Championships in Budapest Hungary. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

As a grade schooler, Katharine Holmes was fascinated with tales of Middle Ages derring-do.

“When I was nine, I loved reading books about medieval times and I wanted to be a knight,” said Holmes, a native of Washington D.C.

Acting out those fantasies, Holmes took up fencing. “I fenced along; I was quite terrible at it but I loved it,” said Holmes, who started the sport with the Chevy Chase Fencing Club. “I liked being alone out there on the strip, it was very appealing.”

Holmes got the hang of the sport as an epee specialist and began making a name for herself in regional competitions. “I started doing OK and I decided this is what I wanted to do,” said Holmes.

By the time she was a teenager, Holmes started doing some big things on the world stage. “I went to Cadet World Cup in Germany and then went to Austria,” said Holmes.

“I was awed by the scale of it; I didn’t know what was going on. I went to U-17 World Cup in Belfast and came in second; everything happened so fast.”

Joining the Princeton University women’s fencing team in 2011, Holmes quickly established herself as one of the top epeeists in the country, placing third in the NCAAs as a freshman and then taking fifth this winter and earning All-Ivy honors both seasons.

Next week, Holmes will be testing her skills on the international stage as she competes for the U.S. in the World Fencing Championships in Budapest Hungary, which runs from August 5-12.

In order to book her place to Budapest, Holmes had to perform a balancing act this year as she traveled to national and international events to earn enough points to make the U.S. squad while still competing for Princeton and keeping up with her pre-med class load.

“I had good preparation from my high school days. I am used to it and what it is like to miss a lot of school and make it up,” said Holmes.

“I took organic chemistry and I was only in class for 2 of the 8 exams. I took some on the road or when I came back or before I left. Time management is key. The plane flights are lengthy; they can be eight hours long so that is a good time to work. I have gotten used to it; when I am not fencing, I am working.”

It didn’t take Holmes much time to make an impact on college fencing as she was a first-team All-Ivy League performer as a freshman and then went to take third in the epee at the NCAA championships.

“Fencing is a small world, I knew the fencers on the other teams,” said the 5’10 Holmes.

“It is not the fencing that I had to get used to; it was the format. The Ivy League is a 5-touch format. The NCAA is a million 5-touch matches. The Ivy is like pool competition at international matches. The NCAAs was a grind, you have to be in good shape and keep going. It is a test physically and mentally. Doing well in the Ivies gave me confidence going into the NCAAs.”

While Holmes didn’t do quite as well individually for Princeton as she underwent the grind necessitated by seeking a place in the U.S. senior national team, she was thrilled to help the Tigers win the NCAA combined team title.

“That was an incredible feeling,” asserted Holmes. “We had won before the last round but Susie [Scanlan] and I didn’t know it. We were fencing against St. John’s and going at it, thinking that Notre Dame had won. I talked to Zoltan and he told me we already won. We were going crazy.”

In order to clinch a spot on the national team, Holmes had to go crazy in a World Cup meet in Rio de Janeiro in late May.

“I remember landing in Rio thinking I would know whether I made it when I took off to leave,” said Holmes, who took 30th to gain the necessary points to be in the top four in the U.S. in epee.

“I did pretty well in the first round. I got into round 32; I was going against a 2012 Olympian from China and I was down 10-6; I stopped thinking about making the team, my exams popped into my mind and all of a sudden I won 15-12.”

Looking to show that her spot on the national team was no fluke, Holmes placed second in the epee at the Pan American Championships in mid-June in a key tune-up for the world championships.

“I went in with the attitude that I wanted to prove myself and show that I wasn’t the little kid that didn’t belong there,” said Holmes.

“I won against girls from Amanda Simeao, Joanne Guy, and Cleia Guilhon to get to the final round. In the final I went against arguably our best epeeist [Courtney Hurley] and I didn’t want to let her kill me. I was down 14-11 and I got it to 14-14 before she made the winning touch.”

In preparing for the worlds, Holmes will be training hard to show that she belongs with the best in her sport.

“I am going to get to work with Zoltan [Princeton fencing head coach Zoltan Dudas] at the Princeton camp and some other girls are coming in,” said Holmes.

“When I leave the U.S., I am going to Budapest for a camp there and I will be fencing a lot there. Zoltan is running the camp with the Hungarian team and some other internationals.”

Holmes is hoping for a deep run at the competition. “My goal would be to make the top 32,” said Holmes.

“There are two ways to make it out of first round, one is to be in the top 16 and you jump into the top 64 automatically. You can also fence your way in. I have to take it bout by bout and point by point. I have to compartmentalize things.”

Having former Princeton teammate and close friend Eliza Stone ’13 on hand in Budapest as a member of the U.S. saber team is a good thing for Holmes.

“I am really glad Eliza and I are both going,” said Holmes, who will also be joined at the worlds by two other Tiger alums, women’s epeeist May Lawrence ’02 and men’s epee performer Soren Thompson ’05.

“It will be good to have her cheering me. She reads me so well. We hang out all the time; we have become best friends. She works harder than any fencer I have ever seen.”

Holmes is hoping that her hard work will ultimately land her a return trip to Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

“Rio is definitely a goal; I am going to finish my junior year and take two years off to train and qualify,” said Holmes. “I am going in with the goal of getting a medal; I want to be a contender.”

GREAT BRIT: Sherman Brittingham of the Ivy Inn, center, lofts a shot over Alex Fox of Sneakers Plus last Monday in Game 1 of the best-of-three championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. ­Brittingham scored a game-high 20 points as fourth-seeded Ivy Inn defeated second-seeded Sneakers Plus 49-43. Game 2 of the series is slated for July 31 at 8 p.m. at the Community Park courts with Game 3, if necessary, to take place on August 2.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GREAT BRIT: Sherman Brittingham of the Ivy Inn, center, lofts a shot over Alex Fox of Sneakers Plus last Monday in Game 1 of the best-of-three championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. ­Brittingham scored a game-high 20 points as fourth-seeded Ivy Inn defeated second-seeded Sneakers Plus 49-43. Game 2 of the series is slated for July 31 at 8 p.m. at the Community Park courts with Game 3, if necessary, to take place on August 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The Ivy Inn squad boasts some of the most battle-tested performers in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League.

Players like Bobby Davison, Mark Aziz, Shahid Abdul-Karim, and Buddy Thomas have been through the hoops wars on the Community Park courts and have titles to go along with their combat wounds.

So when Sherman Brittingham joined the squad this summer, the former California University of Pennsylvania standout was just looking to fit in with his new mates.

“I have tried to come in here and get us a couple of buckets,” said the 6’5 Brittingham.

“I try not to force the issue because we have a lot of guys that can play. Sometimes I might start forcing the issue and then I have got to think to myself I have got some guys here who can play so I don’t have to force it too much. I play the team game, I try to be the team player.”

Brittingham, though, has emerged as the X-factor for Ivy Inn as his scoring prowess helped carry the squad into the league’s best-of-three championship series. He scored a game-high 24 points to help fourth-seeded Ivy Inn edge top-seeded and defending champion Winberie’s 55-50 in the semis last Friday.

On Monday, Brittingham was at it again, tallying 20 points as Ivy Inn topped second-seeded Sneakers Plus 49-43 to take a 1-0 lead in the title series and improve to a 9-3 record. Game 2 of the series is slated for July 31 at 8 p.m. at the Community Park courts with Game 3, if necessary, to take place on August 2.

In reflecting on the victory over Sneakers Plus, which is comprised of current players from The College of New Jersey men’s hoops team, Brittingham acknowledged that the game was a struggle.

“They played tough,” said Brittingham of Sneakers Plus, which got 15 points from former Princeton High standout Skye Ettin with Alex Fox chipping in 11 as it moved to 9-3 on the summer. “We just have to play sound on defense because they are going to run their sets. They are a lot younger.”

In Brittingham’s view, Ivy Inn’s experience and size counteracted the young legs of Sneakers Plus.

“We have a lot of veterans, we have me, big Mark, and Bobby,” said Brittingham, who trained with Aziz to get ready to play professionally overseas as Brittingham played in Saudi Arabia and Israel while Aziz competed in Egypt. “We have got a lot of strength and size and we are all vets of the game. I think that is what is going to carry us over.”

Ivy Inn showed that savvy as it closed out the game with a decisive 10-5 run. “Down the stretch, we executed, we hit our free throws, and we went where the money was,” said Brittingham. “Winning the first game was important; we have a little bit of leeway now.”

And adding a money player like Brittingham has turned out to be an important move for Ivy Inn.

Darius Young and Freddie Young were on different teams last Friday evening as the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League held its semifinals but the cousins left the Community Park courts forever linked in lore of the league.

In a ceremony between games, the Youngs, together with Scott Findlay, were inducted into the league’s Hall of Fame.

Darius, who helps coach the Ivy Inn team which topped defending champion Winberie’s to advance to this year’s title series, basked in the glow of the Hall of Fame accolade.

“It is nice to be noticed for things you have done in the past and not be forgotten,” said Young, a star performer for the legendary My-T-Sharp and Tigers Tale teams that won eight titles in the first 11 years of the league. “I am honored to still be thought of as a good player.”

Young was especially honored to be going into the Hall of Fame along with cousin Freddie, his running mate on those storied Tiger’s Tale squads. “That was really special,” said Young, 43, a 1988 Princeton High alum who starred in basketball and football.

“Freddie and I started in 1989. Even though we are not on the same team now we still have the feelings of being together. There are a lot of memories.”

Freddie, currently a player/coach for a Dr. Palmer squad that fell to Sneakers Plus in the semis, was pleasantly surprised to to get the Hall of Fame honor while still active on the court.

“To be honest, the first thing I said is don’t you have to be retired to get inducted,” said Young.

“They said Freddie it has been long enough, it has been 25 years. I guess I have been kind of grandfathered. It’s hard for me to stop playing but that’s what Dr. (Michael) Palmer and I were just talking about, maybe not coming back to play next year. We said that last year and here we are this year.”

Freddie and his cousin have been talking about going into the Hall of Fame at the same time.

“That was a vision we had for many years, we talked about it, not to the league but between the two of us so it was a big surprise to know that the both of us were going in at the same time,” said Young, 45, who also was a football and basketball standout at PHS.

“Him being my younger cousin, that means a lot also. We started this league, we have been here since day one when it was four teams.”

Young is proud to be a building block of the league, which started in 1989 and is celebrating its 25th season this summer.

“It was really fun for us because we were young and very dominant over the other teams,” said Young, a Physical Education teacher at Pace Charter School in Hamilton who coaches basketball and lacrosse at Princeton Day School.

“After the first couple of years, it was let’s go out and win another one, let’s go out and win another one. They sanctioned the league, which allowed Division I college players to come and play. Once they did that, the competition got a lot better. We still won a few more titles after that but then our age got to us. The 18, 19, 20, and 21 year olds were coming in. That was a little tough.”

Darius hopes that today’s younger players will take something from what he and his cousin have done on the Community Park courts.

“I want the young players to know the history of the league,” said Young, the strength and conditioning coach at PDS who also helps guide the Panther boys’ hoops team.

“It is the 25th year and it is good for them to know the foundation of the league. There is a pride that goes into it. The guys on Tiger’s Tale, even today still think they are the toughest in the league. They are always talking about how tough they were.”

Freddie takes pride in giving back to his community through summer hoops.

“I am a Princetonian,” said Young. “Princeton raised me, so whatever I can do, whether it be playing in this league, coaching in this league, helping out in any way in this league, that’s what I am going to do because this is where I come from. With that being said, as long as this league is going on, you will see my face around.”

Darius, for his part, can’t face not being around the league either.

“It all goes back to being with a team where the guys are close,” said Young.

“We are friends outside of the game. You come to the park and there is a family atmosphere. These are the guys that you want to go to battle with. In the heat of battle, I know I can depend on them. Take Friday’s game, we didn’t point fingers, we were encouraging each other and we came out with the win. I can’t see myself with any other team.”

MAKING WAVES: Madeline Hoedemaker of the Community Park Bluefish displays her freestyle form in a race earlier this summer. Last week, Hoedemaker came up big at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet, getting named the MVP for 12-and-under girls. She earned that honor by placing first in both the 12-and-under 100-meter individual medley, 50 butterfly, and the 50 freestyle along with helping the 200 free relay take second. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING WAVES: Madeline Hoedemaker of the Community Park Bluefish displays her freestyle form in a race earlier this summer. Last week, Hoedemaker came up big at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet, getting named the MVP for 12-and-under girls. She earned that honor by placing first in both the 12-and-under 100-meter individual medley, 50 butterfly, and the 50 freestyle along with helping the 200 free relay take second.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While the Community Park Bluefish placed fourth of six teams in Division I last week at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet, the club produced some memorable individual performances.

Madeline Hoedemaker will certainly have fond memories of the competition, which was held July 22-23 at the Flemington-Raritan Community Pool, as she was named the meet’s MVP for 12-and-under girls. She earned that honor by placing first in the 12-and-under 100-meter individual medley, 50 butterfly, and the 50 freestyle along with helping the 200 free relay take second.

Hoedemaker’s heroics helped the Bluefish pile up 1,555.50 points in the meet and take fourth in the Division I standings. Lawrenceville Swimming Association placed first in the division, totaling 2,724 points, followed by Flemington-Raritan and the Hamilton Hurricanes.

She wasn’t the only one in her family to shine as younger sister, Grace, also had a big meet. The younger Hoedemaker won the 10-and-under 25 fly and took second in the 100 IM and seventh in the 25 free.

Ella Jones emerged as another top young girl swimmer for the Bluefish, taking second in both the 8-and-under 100 IM and in the 25 free. Alysse Kiesewetter earned a win in the girls’ 6-and-under backstroke and took fourth in the 25 free. Piper Dubow who was second in the 8-and-under 25 back while Bridget Lawn placed second in the 10-and-under back and third in the 25 free. Abby Walden was third in both the 8-and-under 25 free and the 25 fly.

Among the younger Bluefish boys, Daniel King came up big, winning the 6-and-under back and helping the 100 free relay take third. The quartet of Ben Eckerson, Brandon Lim, Jason Kratzer, and Jaxon Petrone combined to win the 10-and-under 100 medley relay. Paul Lacava placed third in the 8-and-under 25 butterfly and fourth in the 25 breaststroke.

Morgan Linsley stood out as a versatile performer for the older CP girls, taking second in both the 12-and-under 100 IM and the 50 back as well as fifth in the 50 free. She also helped the 200 free relay take second, combining with Madeline Hoedemaker, Eva Petrone, and Isabella Phillips.

Another sister act, Robyn and Kirstin Carter, piled up points for the Bluefish. Robyn took third in the girls’ 14-and-under 50 back and fourth in both the 50 free and the 50 breast while Kirstin placed third in the 18-and-under 100 IM and 50 free. Hannah Ash finished fourth in both the 18-and-under 50 back and 50 free.

Princeton High boys’ swimming rising senior star Will Stange was a top producer for the Bluefish older boys contingent, placing first in both the 18-and-under 50 back and 50 fly while taking second in the 100 IM. Stange also helped the Bluefish win the 200 medley relay, combining with Matthew Shanahan, Thomas Galvin, and Jackson Miller for the victory.

Charles Yandrisevits also had a big meet for CP, taking first in the 12-and-under 50 breast and second in both the 12-and-under 100 IM and 50 back. Stephen Kratzer was fourth in the 14-and-under 100 IM, 50 fly, and 50 free.

BAY WATCH: Daniel Baytin of the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings shows his butterfly form in a race this summer. Last week, Baytin came up big at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet, placing first in both the 8-and-under 100 individual medley and the 25 freestyle.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BAY WATCH: Daniel Baytin of the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings shows his butterfly form in a race this summer. Last week, Baytin came up big at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet, placing first in both the 8-and-under 100 individual medley and the 25 freestyle. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After finishing second in the 2013 Division 2 dual meet standings in the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA), the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings matched that performance in the league’s championship meet last week.

Showing good depth, Nassau piled up 2,344 points at the season-ending competition held July 22-23 at the Flemington-Raritan Community Pool, finishing behind only to the Ben Franklin Swim Club (2,676 points) among Division 2 teams.

Among the 10-and-under girls’ swimmers, Veronique DiBlasio was a key producer for the Lemmings, taking second in both the 25-meter backstroke, and the 25 breaststroke, and helping the 100 medley relay to victory, joined by Ella Caddeau, Margaret Hill, and Julie Troilo.

Caddeau for her part, won the 10-and-under butterfly and finished third in the back while Hill placed first in the 10-and-under 25 free and third in the 25 fly.

Cate Bashore took first in the eight-and under 100 individual medley while Sophia Burton placed fifth in the eight-and-under 25 free and second in the 25 back. Emma Hopkins was second in the 100 IM and fourth in the 25 fly. Sabine Ristad placed second in the six-and-under 25 back.

A pair of Simons, Simon L’Heveder and Simon Sheppard, came up big for Nassau’s 10-and-under boys. L’Heveder was second in the 10-and-under 100IM and third in the 25 back while Sheppard placed second in the 25 back and the 25 fly.

Daniel Baytin was a double winner in the eight-and-under division, placing first in the 100 IM and the 25 free. Alex Burton took fifth in the six-and-under 25 free and second in the 25 back.

The Monaghan sisters, Isabelle and Sophia, piled up a lot of points for Nassau’s contingent of older girls. Isabelle took second in the 12-and-under 50 back and third in the 100 IM as well as helping the 200 free relay to victory, joined by Rachel Adlai-Gail, Grace Sheppard, and Jane Uricoli. Stanford-bound water polo star Sophia placed first in both the 18-and-under 50 free and 50-and-under back and took third in the 50 fly.

The team’s 14-and-under girls’ contingent had a big meet. The quartet of Brigid DiBlasio, Emma Campisi, Becca Adlai-Gail and Maddie Troilo won the 200 medley relay. The 200 free relay of DiBlasio, Adlai-Gail, and Troilo together with Anna Hill also took first.

DiBlasio added wins in the 14-and-under 100 IM and 50 back while Campisi won the 14-and-under 50 breast and took fourth in the 50 free. Becca Adlai-Gail won the 14-and-under 50 fly while Troilo was second in the 50 breast.

As for the team’s older boy swimmers, Nick Bunn and Will McGuirk, piled up a lot of points. Bunn took first in the 18-and-under 50 fly and second in the 50 free while McGuirk won the 18-and-under 50 free and placed fourth in the 50 back. Bunn and McGuirk combined with David Adlai-Gail and Andrew Mavis to win the 200 free relay. Mavis also took second in the 18-and-under 50 back.

Ben Amon took fourth in the 12-and-under 50 breast while Sacha L’Heveder placed third in the 14-and-under 50 back and fifth in the 50 breast.

July 24, 2013
TRAINED EYE: Princeton University head athletic trainer Charlie Thompson helps an injured Tiger football player. Thompson was recently inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Hall of Fame.(Photo Courtesy of Charlie Thompson)

TRAINED EYE: Princeton University head athletic trainer Charlie Thompson helps an injured Tiger football player. Thompson was recently inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Hall of Fame. (Photo Courtesy of Charlie Thompson)

Growing up in Rhode Island, Charlie Thompson had visions of playing in the NHL someday but a knee operation in his senior year of high school derailed his hockey career.

That setback, though, helped Thompson find his life’s calling. “The grandfather of one of my best friends was the head athletic trainer for a team called the Providence Reds in the AHL,” said Thompson.

“We were rink rats; we would run around and we would always go down to the locker room between periods and watch him. He would suture guys. It wasn’t until I got hurt that I realized that I really didn’t have anybody to help me out. I thought this is something I would enjoy doing. It would be nice to help other kids out who had the same aspirations but didn’t have anybody to help them out when they got hurt.”

Thompson went on to the University of Rhode Island where he worked as a student trainer and then headed west to the University of Arizona as a student in the school’s graduate athletic training program and earned a Master of Science degree.

After beginning his career at a Texas high school, Thompson got into the college arena, making stops at Princeton University, Pitt, URI, Penn State, Maine and back to Princeton where he has been the head athletic trainer since 1999.

Last month, Thompson’s odyssey brought him to Las Vegas where he was inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Hall of Fame.

“I never started what I was doing to become a Hall of Famer,” said Thompson, 55, reflecting on the honor.

“I started into it to honor people who have been great mentors to me. I felt like I owed it to them and to have this as an end result, it is absolutely incredible. Two years ago I received the most distinguished athletic trainer award and I don’t know if that is the stepping stone to the Hall of Fame but I thought it was the highlight of my career. I never, ever expected to be in the Hall of Fame.”

The hands on training that Thompson got during his college days proved to be a stepping stone to his later success.

“Back then our education programs in athletic training weren’t as big as they are now,” said Thompson.

“I actually was a physical education major and took a lot of athletic training courses. I worked as a student athletic trainer. I had a great experience with two people that I worked under, Tom Dolan and Mike Rule. They were phenomenal and a big help to my career. Between my junior and senior year I worked in the NY Jets training camp so they helped there. And somehow they got me into the University of Arizona which was the top training program at the time.”

Acknowledging that he didn’t have the best grades as an undergraduate, Thompson knows that he was lucky to get accepted at Arizona.

“I had a good resume and I loved doing what I did,” said Thompson, noting that there were 500 applicants for 17 positions in the program.

“From day one I loved being in the athletic training room more than I loved being in the classroom or the library so that is where I spent a lot of my time. When I went to Arizona, we were doing our coursework and we were head athletic trainers in the Tucson school district. That was a great experience.”

After a year as the head trainer at Leander (Texas) High, Thompson moved into the college arena.

“In 1982, a position at Princeton opened up so I interviewed with Dick Malacrea and fortunately he hired me here,” said Thompson.

“I was here for three years. I did freshman football, I did varsity basketball, and I did varsity baseball. It was a pretty interesting experience; I got to work with Pete Carril and Tom O’Connell, who were two great coaches.”

With three years at Princeton under his belt, Thompson decided to get a taste of bigger time athletics and headed to Pitt. He then went back to his alma mater, URI, to serve as the school’s head trainer. He made another foray into the big time, working as a football trainer at Penn State from 1991-1996, going to six bowl games with the Nittany Lions, including a memorable 12-0 1994 campaign which ended up with a Rose Bowl victory.

Applying the knowledge he gained from that experience, he headed back to New England, serving as the head trainer at Maine from 1997-99. He then returned to Princeton where he has become a fixture.

“I came back in 1999. Steve Tosches was still the football coach and Steve and I went to URI together so there was a comfort level there,” said Thompson, who works as the primary trainer for football, baseball, and men’s heavyweight crew in addition to his duties of running the training staff.

“I knew the campus. I knew a lot of the operation. I knew the system so it was a fairly smooth transition. I always felt that when you come to Princeton you become part of the Princeton family. I am still very, very good friends with several athletes who were here when I was here the first time.”

Thompson enjoys being part of the Princeton family, expressing admiration for the Tiger coaches and athletes.

“We don’t have any coaches who have been problems,” said Thompson, whose family at home includes wife, Sandy, an office manager for a dental group, and two children, a son Colin, who graduated from N.Y.U., and a daughter, Ashley, who graduated from Emerson College.

“It is nice that we are part of health services but in lot of ways it is not as necessary here because they understand why the athletes are here. They are here to get a degree. There are high expectations, academically and athletically. If you look at what we have done it is pretty incredible in terms of Ivy titles, national titles, and players going on to the pros. You are dealing with a high level athlete.”

Augmenting his work through writing articles and speaking on training issues has helped Thompson reach a higher level in his profession.

“That was 32 years ago. I was sitting with Dick Malacrea at dinner at a meeting and he told me that we need people who are willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of the profession and that was a big impetus,” said Thompson, who has been a member of the NATA Governance Task Force, the Strategic Implementation Team, and Vision Quest and is a frequent speaker at the state, regional, and national level, helping to put on workshops on “Muscle Energy Techniques” at Princeton, at other universities, and at athletic training seminars.

“It takes time but luckily I have a spouse who is incredible, very strong and independent and very, very supportive of my entire career. She realizes this is a passion for me. My other passion is my family and they always would come first.”

His passion for his family came through during the NATA induction celebration in late June in Las Vegas.

“It was very emotional,” said Thompson, who learned in March that he had been chosen for the Hall of Fame.

“On Tuesday we had a rehearsal. They give you two or three minutes to speak and when I get to the end where I talk about my children and my wife, I just couldn’t finish during the rehearsal. I had to find a way not to break when I got up there on Wednesday. I hadn’t done the talk without cracking. I actually got through it without cracking which was really good.”

For Thompson, getting recognized as a Hall of Famer has triggered some deep emotions.

“I am not a big Facebook person and all of these people were commenting and I said listen, I can’t answer everybody, I just want to tell you how humbled I am and how grateful I am for the friendship,” said Thompson.

“I just hope I can live up to this. A friend of mine, Margie King, who is in the Hall of Fame, sent me a message, saying ‘Charlie, you don’t have anything to live up to, because you have already lived it. You are in because of what you have done. This isn’t a trial, you have done what you needed to do to become a Hall of Famer so don’t worry about living up to it. You have already done that part; you have done it all.’”

Princeton baseball head coach Scott Bradley is grateful to have worked with Thompson.

“It is like talking about a player, Charlie has the ability and experience,” said Bradley, a nine-year Major League veteran who has headed the Tiger program for 16 seasons.

“He takes his knowledge and puts it to best use. He is not afraid to continue learning. He is like a big league manager the way he runs his training room. He understands the strengths of his trainers and he lets them use them. He’s not afraid to go to them with questions. There is no ego involved.”

In Bradley’s view, it is Thompson’s amiable nature that sets him apart. “The most important thing is his ability to communicate; he has a great personality,” said Bradley.

“He can be serious but it is always fun when you are around Charlie. He had his choice of sports after football when he came in as the head trainer and we are lucky that he chose baseball. It is great to be able to travel with him.”

Bradley and his players enjoyed the ride this spring as Thompson savored the NATA recognition.

“We have had a lot of fun with it; we list HOF after his name,” said Bradley.

“It has been a celebration year. He has been holding court. The trainers for the other teams want to spend time with him and come out to talk with him. It is a well-deserved honor. He has made my job so much easier. He has a better relationship with our players than any of the major league trainers I have seen.”

Thompson, for his part, is not planning to leave his Princeton post any time soon.

“I can’t afford not to; I probably have 10 years left, I am 55,” said a chuckling Thompson.

“I love what I do. I don’t have days where I come in ‘oh God, I have got to do this, I have got to do that.’ You come in and you are invigorated. Here you are dealing with very motivated athletes. You are dealing with some of the brightest students in the country. You are dealing with a great coaching staff. I am dealing with some of the best orthopedists you would ever want to deal with. My boss, Dr. Margo Patukian, is on the NFL head, neck and spine committee.”

While Thompson may have never achieved his goal of NHL glory, he has enjoyed a dream life.

“I have a wonderful career, I love everything about it,” said Thompson, whose office wall in Caldwell Fieldhouse is crammed with professional citations and photos of special moments from his time at Princeton.

“I have been to the NCAA basketball tournament, I have been to baseball regionals. I have a connection with the Eagles and I go down there and help them with mini-camps. I have done some games. I have been to the big house in Michigan, I have been to six bowl games. Some of the things I have had a chance to do are great. It is a long way from those rinks in Providence.”

WORLD OF TALENT: Teresa Benvenuti dribbles the ball between two defenders last fall in her freshman season with the Princeton University field hockey team. Benvenuti, who made first-team All-Ivy League and earned Ivy Rookie of the Year honors on the way to helping Princeton win its first-ever NCAA title, has been making an impact for the U.S. national program this summer. She recently made the roster of the U.S. senior national team and was also named to the U.S. U-21 squad that will be competing in the Junior World Cup, which is running from July 27 to August 4 in Monchengladbach, Germany. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

WORLD OF TALENT: Teresa Benvenuti dribbles the ball between two defenders last fall in her freshman season with the Princeton University field hockey team. Benvenuti, who made first-team All-Ivy League and earned Ivy Rookie of the Year honors on the way to helping Princeton win its first-ever NCAA title, has been making an impact for the U.S. national program this summer. She recently made the roster of the U.S. senior national team and was also named to the U.S. U-21 squad that will be competing in the Junior World Cup, which is running from July 27 to August 4 in Monchengladbach, Germany.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When Teresa Benvenuti joined the Princeton University field hockey program last August, she was a bit intimidated by the squad’s returning U.S. Olympians, Katie and Julia Reinprecht.

“Coming in, we were scared to talk to them,” said Benvenuti. “We soon realized how nice they are. They are so successful on and off the field, they can’t help but be role models.”

Benvenuti took a page out of the Reinprecht sisters’ book in her freshman campaign, making first-team All-Ivy League and earning Ivy Rookie of the Year honors on the way to helping Princeton win its first-ever NCAA title.

“I had to learn to be part of the team, and not just be watching,” said Benvenuti, a native of nearby Morristown, who tallied seven goals and seven assists as a back/midfielder in her debut campaign.

“It is easy to look at Katie or Kat [Sharkey] dribbling the ball up the field. I had Katie playing right behind me and that was great. She would tell me where to go.”

Now Benvenuti is going down a similar path as the Reinprechts, making the roster of the U.S. senior national team and getting named to the U.S. U-21 squad that will be competing in the Junior World Cup, which is running from July 27 to August 4 in Monchengladbach, Germany.

Having played for the U.S. U-14 through U-19 teams, Benvenuti has already gained a lot from international experience.

“You get to play with different coaches and players; you learn different styles of play,” said Benvenuti, who was named to the U-21 team in the spring of 2012.

“Then playing internationally, you go against great players; you have to learn to stay calm and composed.”

This past fall, Benvenuti displayed that composure, raising the level of her game in the postseason as the Tigers produced their stirring title run.

“As the tournament goes on, you play better and better teams and you have to improve,” said Benvenuti, who tallied two goals and two assists in her four NCAA appearances.

“I would talk with the coaches after each game and they would tell me what I needed to work on. The main thing was not trying to do too much and to take care of the simple things.”

Benvenuti took care of things in the NCAA semifinals, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime in a 3-2 victory over Maryland on her first and only penalty stroke of the season.

“It was the first one I had taken,” said Benvenuti, recalling her moment of glory.

“I had never been so confident and calm; there was no doubt in my mind. Michelle [Cesan] told me I was going to be the one to take it and I could see she had confidence in me. I still can’t believe I made it.”

Benvenuti couldn’t believe her bad luck two days later when a fluky injury kept her out of the title game.

“In the warmup before the championship game, I heard a pop in my hamstring,” said Benvenuti.

“I was looking forward to playing in the national championship game as a freshman. I was not able to move laterally so that would leave a big hole in our defense so somebody else had to step up.  It was awesome to see us win.”

As Benvenuti looks ahead to the Junior World Cup, she is expecting another awesome experience.

“I have heard good things about the team; I really like the coaches,” said Benvenuti.

“We did a little practicing at the High Performance weekend, we had about five days together. First we are going to Holland for some test matches against the Dutch and then on to Germany for some games there. I think our team will rise to the occasion.”

The U.S. will be hoping to rise above their eighth place finish in the 2009 World Cup.

“We have to take things one game at a time and focus on the moment,” said Benvenuti.

“I am trying to make sure that we keep our formation and organize the backline.”

This fall, Benvenuti will be trying to keep things well organized for the Tigers as they defend their national title.

“With Kat, Katie, and Amy [Donovan] graduating, I am looking to help more with leadership,” asserted Benvenuti.

CHANGE UP: Tom Hrabchak delivers a pitch for the Bucknell University baseball team this past spring. Hrabchak, a Princeton resident and former Peddie School standout, switched to pitcher from catcher in 2013 and emerged as a bullpen contributor for the Bison. This summer, he is pitching for the Freehold Clippers of the Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League (ABCCL) and made the league’s all-star game. (Photo Courtesy of Bucknell’s Office of Athletic Communications)

CHANGE UP: Tom Hrabchak delivers a pitch for the Bucknell University baseball team this past spring. Hrabchak, a Princeton resident and former Peddie School standout, switched to pitcher from catcher in 2013 and emerged as a bullpen contributor for the Bison. This summer, he is pitching for the Freehold Clippers of the Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League (ABCCL) and made the league’s all-star game.
(Photo Courtesy of Bucknell’s Office of Athletic Communications)

For Tom Hrabchak, spending most of his first two seasons with the Bucknell University baseball team riding the bench as a back-up catcher was frustrating.

“The freshman and sophomore years were pretty tough, I didn’t get that much playing time,” said Princeton resident and former Peddie School standout Hrabchak, who played a total of 11 games in 2011 and 2012, going 3-for 13 at the plate.

“At Peddie, there are maybe 20 games. At Bucknell we are playing 40-50 games; it is tough to not be playing in that many games.”

Sensing that his catching knowledge could be applied in another way to help the team, Hrabchak switched to the pitching end of the battery.

“I had wanted to pitch for a long time, I had the body type more suited to be a pitcher than a catcher,” said the 6’1, 195-pound Hrabchak.

“The coach approached me at the end of my sophomore year and asked me to pitch over the summer. I had an advantage as a catcher, wanting to help pitchers do better. I know what good pitching mechanics are and I had to figure out how to do that myself.”

Getting some mound experience last summer for the Freehold Clippers of the Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League (ABCCL), Hrabchak emerged as a bullpen contributor this spring for Bucknell.

He made his first appearance at Richmond in mid-February in a season-opening three-game series.

“I came in at the end of the weekend, I had the last inning of game 3,” recalled Hrabchak, who retired both batters that he faced.

“I was very nervous. From where I had been as a walk-on catcher to my first year of pitching and going against D-I hitters, I did well.”

Hrabchak was a work in progress this spring, pitching 8.1 innings in six appearances with nine strikeouts and nine walks and an ERA of 4.32.

“During the school year, I was working on a splitter, it is a tough pitch to get down and control,” said Hrabchak.

“My velocity is in the mid-80s, which is not great for D-I. I think every outing is a learning experience. I had my ups and downs during the season. I had one really poor outing.”

Pitching again this summer for the Clippers, Hrabchak has produced some excellent outings as he made the league’s all-star game.

“The summer league is more relaxed, it is lots of fun, I get to meet guys I wouldn’t get to know,” said Hrabchak, who had three saves and an ERA of 0.64 in his first six appearances this summer with 23 strikeouts and six walks in 14 innings of work.

“I am working mostly on my fastball. I want to get my fastball consistent and cut down on the walks. The other part is getting faster to the plate when runners are on base.”

Looking ahead to his senior campaign for Bucknell, Hrabchak will be working to provide leadership and production.

“I want to be there for the guys and help the younger players,” said Hrabchak, who is majoring in computer science with a minor in physics. “I am really happy I switched; it is giving me more opportunities to play.”

NEAR MISS: Ellis Bloom bunts the ball in action earlier this summer for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team. Recently graduated Princeton High star Bloom’s play at third base and pitcher helped Post 218 go 12-12 on the season. The team narrowly missed out on its first-ever state playoff berth, finishing one game behind Ewing for sixth place in the Mercer County American Legion League (MCALL) and the last spot in the state tourney.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

NEAR MISS: Ellis Bloom bunts the ball in action earlier this summer for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team. Recently graduated Princeton High star Bloom’s play at third base and pitcher helped Post 218 go 12-12 on the season. The team narrowly missed out on its first-ever state playoff berth, finishing one game behind Ewing for sixth place in the Mercer County American Legion League (MCALL) and the last spot in the state tourney. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Ellis Bloom and his teammates on the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team found themselves in an unusual position as they headed into the final days of the regular season.

With Post 218 having never qualified for postseason play in its 24-year history, the team was battling Ewing for sixth place Mercer County American Legion League (MCALL) and the final spot in the state playoffs and relishing the chase.

“We knew in the beginning of this week that we had to do well,” said Post 218 third baseman Bloom.

“We could slip up once or twice but we knew we had to win the majority of the games. We did a good job of fighting. We took care of business on Monday. We got two wins there (against Robbinsville), which was really big. Then we had a slip up (an 11-1 loss to Hamilton on July 16) and that happens but the best part about that was that we were able to bounce back and we didn’t take that 10-run loss to the grave. We actually used it to our advantage. We had a very exciting and great win against Hopewell.”

Coming into the final day of the regular season last Thursday, Post 218 hosted league champion Bordentown Post 26 and controlled its destiny.

If Princeton won, it was in the playoffs no matter what happened to Ewing, who was playing Lawrence and WW/P in makeup games on Thursday. A Princeton loss combined with a Ewing split would still get Post 218 a berth in the state playoffs.

Leading off the bottom of the first inning, Bloom helped Post 218 get off to a good start against Bordentown, singling and then scoring as Princeton took a 1-0 lead.

“I really felt good, especially after wiggling out of a runner on third situation in the top of the first and then coming right back and getting a run,” said Bloom, who graduated from Princeton High last month where he starred on boys’ basketball and baseball teams.

“Unfortunately we weren’t able to get more on that. If we got one or two past the pitcher, we might have scored more.”

Princeton gave up three runs in the top of the second and found itself trailing 5-2 in the fifth when Bloom came in from third to relieve starting pitcher Rohit Chawla.

“My mindset was just to throw strikes,” said Bloom. “Obviously, if I walked too many people they would start ringing up the score. So just throwing strikes was really important and I thought I did a good job of mixing up my pitches, which really showed keeping them at zero.”

Princeton did rally in the bottom of the seventh as it got two runners on but was unable to score as it fell 5-2. To make matters worse, Ewing swept Allentown and WW/P-to grab the last playoff spot.

While it was disappointing for Post 218 to fall short, Bloom was proud of the way the team battled in posting a final record of 12-12.

“That has been our calling card the entire year,” said Bloom, referring to the team’s perseverance.

“Our biggest win of the year was probably the Allentown win and we were down by four going into the seventh inning and being able to come back was great for our confidence. That is essentially the definition of this team. One game goes our way and we are in a different situation. Going 12-12 has been great, just being in the hunt for the first time in a long time has been exciting.”

Post 218 manager Tommy Parker tipped his hat to his scrappy club, which improved markedly from a 7-15 campaign in 2012.

“That is great progress,” asserted Parker, who is the only manager in the history of the Post 218 program.

“We lost a couple of games early and that was literally just the way the ball bounced against teams that became the cream of the crop. We actually split with the second place team (Allentown).”

Parker credited Bloom and his other veteran players with helping to put Post 218 in place for its run at a playoff spot.

“Ellis has been stellar the whole season; he has been one of our stalwart guys,” said Parker.

“The senior guys have showed great leadership to the younger guys. What can I say about the older guys, like Ian Naccarella and Jon Hayden. Jess Russo is a warrior, he has been bumped and bruised and beat up and he has hung in there. It has been a total team effort. We have had great pitching. I am pleased.”

Boasting a foundation of some promising young players, Princeton should be able to hang with the best teams in the MCALL going forward.

“The most exciting thing is that a lot of these guys, if not most, are going to be back,” said Parker.

“The young guys have gained experience. We got a lot of help from Colin Ganges; he played as though he has been playing forever. He went on a hitting tear. Chris Sumners is an eighth grader and he has been playing good ball. I look forward to Ben Grass’ development. The young guys are going to be great.”

Bloom, for his part, has had a great experience this summer. “Starting two years ago, we won two games but one was by forfeit,” said Bloom, who is heading to Gettysburg College where he will be trying to walk on the school’s baseball team.

“So winning 10 more games than two years ago has been excellent. We always start the game thinking that we are going to win. It doesn’t matter if we are playing Bordentown or Broad Street Park or any of the tough teams or any of the bottom teams. It is just a tribute to the toughness of this team.”

DOUBLE TAKE: DeQuan Holman dribbles upcourt in previous Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League action. Last Monday, former Princeton High standout Holman scored a game-high 15 points as third-seeded Dr. Palmer edged No. 6 Clear View Window Cleaning 42-39 in double overtime in the opening round of the league playoffs. Dr. Palmer will face second-seeded Sneakers Plus on July 26 in the semis.(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

DOUBLE TAKE: DeQuan Holman dribbles upcourt in previous Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League action. Last Monday, former Princeton High standout Holman scored a game-high 15 points as third-seeded Dr. Palmer edged No. 6 Clear View Window Cleaning 42-39 in double overtime in the opening round of the league playoffs. Dr. Palmer will face second-seeded Sneakers Plus on July 26 in the semis. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

As Dr. Palmer battled Clear View Window Cleaning late in the second overtime last Monday in the opening round of the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League playoffs, DeQuan Holman proved to be in the right place at the right time.

With third-seeded Dr. Palmer ahead 40-39 in the waning seconds of the contest, former Princeton High star Holman seized the advantage after a turnover, getting open on the wing and putting in a layup to stretch the lead to 42-39. Moments later, when No. 6 Clear View was looking to hit a three and extend the marathon nailbiter, Holman was on the receiving end of a botched pass and dribbled out the clock as Dr. Palmer survived by that 42-39 margin.

After it was over, a sweating, winded Holman headed to a corner of the John Witherspoon gym to catch his breath.

“We both played hard,” said Holman. “With the layoff that we had coming in here from our last game to this one, we started off pretty good with defense. But they slowed the game down and got back into it. From there, we couldn’t make shots and we struggled a little bit. They played a tough game as well.”

In the early stages of the contest, Holman was playing tough, scoring seven points as Dr. Palmer built a 20-15 halftime lead.

“I was moving around
early, I got a couple of steals early but then it stopped coming so easy,” said Holman.

Things became even harder for Dr. Palmer when Mike Scott was ejected with 5:28 left in regulation.

“That was a tough situation especially with him being athletic as he is,” said Holman, who scored a game-high 15 points on the evening with Mike Snider tallying 12 to lead Clear View.

“That’s a big piece missing for us. The game is played on the floor and not on paper. Whatever is going to happen out there, we are going to try our hardest. We had to adjust; we were able to and we got the win.

By virtue of winning its game, Dr. Palmer will face second-seeded Sneakers Plus, a 45-34 victor over Northeast Realty in the first round, on July 26 in the semis. WTG topped Princeton Youth Sports 40-20 to advance to a quarterfinal matchup on July 24 with top-seeded Winberie’s. Fourth-seeded Ivy Inn will face No. 5 PA Blue Devils in the other quarter that evening.

The winners of the Wednesday games will meet in the other semifinal on Friday. The best-of-three championship series will begin on July 29.

Holman, who helped University Radiology to the 2011 crown, is hoping to make a similar impact in his first season with Dr. Palmer.

“I just want to bring my game to the team,” said Holman. “I just wanted to come in and be a contributor any way possible and I don’t think they have slipped too far from where they were last year or the year before.”

In Holman’s view, Dr. Palmer’s hard-earned win on Monday could help it go far in the playoffs.

“To get a tough game like that out of the way in the first round sets us up,” said Holman. “But nothing is going to come easy here, we are not going to be expected to get anything but we are going to work hard for everything.”

July 17, 2013
INTERNATIONAL WATERS: Drew Hoffenberg controls the ball in action for the Princeton University men’s water polo team. Hoffenberg, a rising junior star and co-captain for the Tigers, is currently competing for the U.S. squad at the 19th World Maccabiah Games in Israel. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

INTERNATIONAL WATERS: Drew Hoffenberg controls the ball in action for the Princeton University men’s water polo team. Hoffenberg, a rising junior star and co-captain for the Tigers, is currently competing for the U.S. squad at the 19th World Maccabiah Games in Israel.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Drew Hoffenberg, competing for the U.S. Junior National water polo team during his high school years hastened his development as a player.

“It’s a lot of fun; you are playing with the best guys in your age group,” said Hoffenberg. “It is the best way to get better. It is a lot of fun. You are making a lot of new friends. It is a small community and you stay in touch with these guys.”

This week, the rising junior Princeton University star is playing with another national team as he competes for the U.S. squad at the 19th World Maccabiah Games in Israel.

Hoffenberg, a native of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., didn’t have to go far from home to punch his ticket for Israel.

“The tryout was here in San Diego in December; it was a 3-day tryout,” said Hoffenberg.

“There were 35-40 people. There are some players on the team who were playing overseas. As the days went on, I got more and more confident. I was playing well and I thought I had a good chance of making the team.”

Hoffenberg’s confidence was justified as he ended up making the roster of 14 for the competition which will take place from July 18-30 and draw more than 7,000 athletes representing 60 countries.

“I found out about two weeks after,” said Hoffenberg. “I was excited. I was ready to go to Israel. We have some really talented guys on the team. I know a lot of the kids. It is a great group.”

Coming east to Princeton has been a great move for Hoffenberg. “I never came to Princeton for an official visit, I did make an unofficial visit as a junior,” said Hoffenberg, who considered such west coast water polo powers as UCLA, USC, and Stanford in his college recruiting process.

“Billy Tifft [recently graduated Princeton star] was one of my high school teammates and he clued me into what the team is about. It is a balance of academics and athletics. You can’t beat the education and it is always one of the top water polo teams in the east.”

Hoffenberg quickly emerged as one of the top players on the Tiger squad, tallying 47 goals and 36 assists as a freshman, earning second-team All-South and All-America honorable mention honors in the regular season and then being named the Most Valuable Player of the Eastern Tournament.

“I kept getting better as the season went on,” said Hoffenberg, in assessing his debut campaign. “I was training with better competition and I got more comfortable with the team.”

As a sophomore, Hoffenberg was even better, scoring a team-leading 63 goals for eighth-best in a single season in program history, while adding 65 steals and 33 assists.

“I was more comfortable with the team,” said Hoffenberg, who now has 110 goals, the eighth-best career total for the Tigers.

“I was more vocal and more of a leader. As a freshman, it is hard to tell people what to do. Once I knew the team, I felt more free to communicate. I played a little better. I played a different role. As a freshman, I was more of a facilitator. I played more at the 21 this season; I had more of a scoring role.”

In his junior season, Hoffenberg will be assuming more of a leadership role as he has been named a team co-captain.

“It shows that my teammates and coaches trust me and think I am an intelligent player,” said Hoffenberg, reflecting on being named captain.

Hoffenberg and his Maccabiah teammates have developed trust in preparing for the competition.

“We had a training camp in San Diego,” said Hoffenberg. “We did training in the morning and scrimmages in the afternoon. We played two games on the weekend. In the past, there was a wide age gap because it is an open team. The age range for this team is 19-25. We have four college kids and a bunch of guys who just graduated from college or have been out for a year or two. We are on the same level; we have the same mentality. It helped us bond. Any time you are together 6½ to 8 hours a day, you are going to talk to each other.”

In Hoffenberg’s view, those bonds will deepen when the team is in Israel. “We are going to be based in Tel Aviv,” said Hoffenberg, who will be joined in Israel by Princeton hockey player Andrew Calof, a forward for the Canadian squad.

“It is going to be amazing. We train in the mornings and then do sightseeing in the afternoon. Israel is amazing, there is nothing like it We are going to get to see the Wailing Wall, the Red Sea, we are going to get VIP tours.”

With the U.S. having earned silver in the 2009 Maccabiah Games, the team is looking to take a step up the medal stand.

“We have a few guys from the 2009 team and they say this team has much more talent,” said Hoffenberg.

“We have to play as well as we can. We don’t know what the competition is like; we haven’t had a chance to scout them. We know Israel is going to be good; it is their national team. We have to focus on our game and playing well.”

Hoffenberg is focusing on providing his diversified game to the U.S. cause.

“I will be mostly a facilitator,” said Hoffenberg. “I will be on secondary attack. I am on the perimeter and look to be an all-around threat.”