August 7, 2013
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.”

GOING GREEN: Addie Micir dribbles past a Harvard defender during her career with the Princeton University women’s basketball team. Micir, a 2011 Princeton alum who was the Ivy League Player of the Year in her senior campaign, is making the move into coaching. She recently joined the staff of the Dartmouth College women’s hoops program as an assistant coach for the Big Green.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GOING GREEN: Addie Micir dribbles past a Harvard defender during her career with the Princeton University women’s basketball team. Micir, a 2011 Princeton alum who was the Ivy League Player of the Year in her senior campaign, is making the move into coaching. She recently joined the staff of the Dartmouth College women’s hoops program as an assistant coach for the Big Green. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even as Addie Micir was working overtime at Jadwin Gym to sharpen her skills for the Princeton University women’s basketball team, she sensed that coaching was in her future.

“I come from a family of teachers. My parents are teachers, my grandmother is and so is my sister,” said Micir, a 2011 Princeton alum who was the Ivy League Player of the Year in her senior campaign.

“My father coached softball at Pennsbury and 9th grade football at William Penn. I had a knack for teaching and I love basketball. Coaching takes practice like anything else. Any chance I could get, I would help out at clinics or do individual workouts with players.”

Upon graduation, Micir took the chance to keep playing, competing for pro teams in Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

“The coaches told me that if I still had the itch to play I shouldn’t get into coaching,” said Micir, a native of Newtown, Pa.

“It was a great experience. The game is completely different, the lane is wider so you can’t bang as much inside. It is more of a finesse game. The players are very skilled, great passers and shooters. At Princeton, everyone is a go-getter and they don’t need to be pushed. Not every basketball player is like that and it was a really good experience to see that.”

But this spring, Micir got the itch to coach and hung up her sneakers. Within months, she was hired as an assistant coach at Dartmouth.

“My body was starting to feel old even though I am only 24,” said Micir with a laugh.

“You put a lot of stress on it in college and then I kept working out and playing. I had some nagging injuries. I decided it was time. I reached out to coach Banghart [Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart] and she was my mentor, filling me in on what I needed to do to get my name out there.”

Although Dartmouth was an archrival for Princeton during Micir’s playing days, she believes it is an ideal place for her to launch her coaching career.

“I had such a great experience with the Ivy League that I wanted to work in a league with smart kids and a good work ethic,” said Micir, who joins the staff of new head coach Bella Koclanes.

“I was looking at Patriot and Ivy programs. I saw the Dartmouth opening and I sent the coach an e-mail. We did our first interview on Skype when I was traveling in Budapest. Three days after I got home I went up for the interviews and they offered me the job while I was up there. It a great place for me.”

While Micir acknowledges that she is short on coaching experience, she believes her knowledge of the game puts her ahead of the curve.

“I was really versatile as a player; I played every position and saw the game from a lot of different positions,” said Micir.

“I wasn’t the greatest athlete so I had to learn and understand the game to beat other players. As a player I did as much as I could to prepare myself. Our coaches did a good job with the scouts.”

With wholesale changes around the Dartmouth program in the wake of longtime head coach Chris Wielgus retiring after a 6-22 campaign last winter, Micir and her new colleagues are learning together.

“The other coaches have been helping me with the business side, how a basketball program works; doing the recruiting, paper work, and things like that,” said Micir. “They are very energetic and helpful.”

Micir will be applying lessons she learned from her college career which saw Princeton rise from a 7-23 record her freshman season to going 50-9 over her last two years.

“It was the first time I hadn’t been successful in school or sports,” recalled Micir. “You see what your character is, everyone is strong-willed but you see how strong-willed you really are. Everyone is a good learner and independent. The Princeton coaches were so influential in my basketball career. The coaches each have different philosophies and I have taken what works for me.”

Now, Micir is dedicated to helping Dartmouth emulate Princeton’s rise up the Ivy ladder.

“I am excited to start at a program that was like Princeton when I got there,” said Micir.

“We have some good pieces in place, we are working on restructuring things and getting the girls to buy into the culture we are trying to create with work ethic, intensity, and knowing the fundamentals of what you need to be successful in the Ivy League. It is being prepared in everything you do; having things taken care of in the classroom helps you focus on the basketball court.”

This month, Micir is focusing on finding some new talent to grace the court for the Big Green.

“I am hitting the recruiting trail in July like everyone else,” said Micir. “We are getting everything together, evaluating talent in junior and senior classes and then we have our Big Green Academy. Then we will prepare for our kids.”

So far, Micir is enjoying everything about her new job. “I have wanted to be a coach for a while and the first few weeks have been phenomenal,” asserted Micir.

“It has been long hours but it is not your typical 9-5 job. I love what I am doing, we have fun as a staff. I see myself in this for the long haul.”

MAKING HAY: Jon Hayden of the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team rounds second base in recent action. Centerfielder Hayden has been a catalyst as Post 218 is in the chase for a spot in the District playoffs. Through July 15, Princeton stood at 11-10 and tied with Ewing for sixth place in the Mercer County American Legion League (MCALL) standings and the final postseason berth.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING HAY: Jon Hayden of the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team rounds second base in recent action. Centerfielder Hayden has been a catalyst as Post 218 is in the chase for a spot in the District playoffs. Through July 15, Princeton stood at 11-10 and tied with Ewing for sixth place in the Mercer County American Legion League (MCALL) standings and the final postseason berth. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Jon Hayden sees himself as a catalyst for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team.

“I like to try to get people pumped up in the game,” said centerfielder Hayden, who recently graduated from the Lawrenceville School. “I talk a lot and I try to make sure that people are ready to go. I try to ignite the flame a little.”

Last week, with Post 218 trailing Robbinsville Post 530 2-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, Hayden sparked Princeton as he cracked a towering double to the left field fence at Smoyer Park. Hayden scored and Post 218 had knotted the game at 2-2 by the end of the frame.

“He threw me a lot of curve balls in my first at bat,” said Hayden, reflecting on his double.

“I was just trying to sit back on whatever the off-speed pitch which was a curve ball and try to take it the other way instead of pulling my head out and trying to yank one down the first base line.”

Princeton fell behind 3-2 and then the game was suspended due to a
cloudburst. The teams met again last Monday to finish last week’s game and to play a regularly scheduled contest. Post 218 rallied for two late runs to win the resumed game 4-3 and then proceeded to top Robbinsville 10-3 to improve to 11-10 on the summer.

The two-win evening put Princeton in a tie with Ewing for sixth place in the Mercer County American Legion League (MCALL) standings and the final spot in the upcoming District tournament.

With Post 218 having never qualified for postseason play in its history, Hayden and his teammates are excited to be in the playoff chase.

“Last year, we were out of it pretty early but we still played hard,” said Hayden.

“This year we have even more of an incentive to play hard baseball. And we have hung with all of the best teams in the league so we know if we play hard and hit the ball hard, we have a chance against anybody in this league.”

The Post 218 mound staff of Rohit Chawla, Jacob Eisenberg, Mike Dunlap, and Andrew Frain has given the team a chance every time it takes the field.

“I can’t stress enough how good our pitching has been this year, they keep us in every single game,” said Hayden.

“Then it is up to us hitters to just do a little bit and put a couple of runs on the board because we know that our pitching is going to hold them down every single game.”

Hayden fine-tuned his hitting over the last year, enjoying a big spring in his final season for Lawrenceville and carrying over that production for Post 218.

“I changed a lot of stuff late last summer and then I tried to pick up from there during the Lawrenceville season and it turned out pretty well,” said Hayden, who is heading to Johns Hopkins this fall where he will be playing for the school’s baseball team.

“I changed my batting stance a little; I widened my stance and made sure I was more balanced because I was out in front a lot in junior season. I sit back and try to take more balls to left center than right center.”

Post 218 manager Tommy Parker likes his squad’s balance and upbeat mentality.

“I would say these guys have been pretty resilient throughout the season and they came back today,” said Parker.

“I can’t talk enough about this combination of kids. We have a youth movement, we have senior leadership, and we have some of the best pitching in the league. Everyone has been excited this season about playing. Everybody has contributed, no deer in the headlights moments. The young guys step up like they have been playing for a few seasons up here. They are not intimidated; they have good on-field presence.”

Hayden’s presence has been a real plus for Princeton. “Jon is a quiet leader,” said Parker.

“He goes out there, he is real enthusiastic. He gets the guys up. I like what he has done and what Jess [Russo] and Ian [Naccarella] has done. They mentor to the younger guys.”

Parker shares his players’ enthusiasm over their bid for a playoff berth. “It is a good feeling; it has been a lot of years since we have had a team that has been close enough to the playoffs that you can touch it,” said Parker.

“You remember our 15-12 season, we missed the playoffs on the last day of the season. I want to push these guys to make the playoffs. It has been a total team effort.”

Hayden, for his part, believes the team will push to the end. “We have a lot of heart on our team; everyone really loves the sport of baseball,” said Hayden. “We all go out there everyday trying to do what we can to get a win.”

RAISING KANE: Kevin Kane of Princeton Youth Sports (PYS) dribbles upcourt last month in the Princeton Recreation Summer Men’s Basketball League. Last Wednesday, Kane scored 12 points as PYS, the Princeton High boys’ hoops team entry in the league, topped WTG 49-33 for its first win of the summer. On Monday, rising junior Kane scored 17 in a losing cause as PYS fell 44-42 to Clear View Window Cleaning and dropped to 1-7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

RAISING KANE: Kevin Kane of Princeton Youth Sports (PYS) dribbles upcourt last month in the Princeton Recreation Summer Men’s Basketball League. Last Wednesday, Kane scored 12 points as PYS, the Princeton High boys’ hoops team entry in the league, topped WTG 49-33 for its first win of the summer. On Monday, rising junior Kane scored 17 in a losing cause as PYS fell 44-42 to Clear View Window Cleaning and dropped to 1-7.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Clutching a clipboard, Mark Shelley put in a workout on the sidelines at the Community Park courts last Wednesday evening, never sitting as he urged on his players verbally and with hand gestures to the final whistle.

It may have been July but Princeton High boys’ basketball head coach Shelley was in mid-winter form in the Princeton Recreation Summer Men’s Basketball League.

Shelley’s instructions were heeded as the PHS entry in the league, Princeton Youth Sports (PYS), pulled away to a 49-33 win over WTG.

“I really try to coach them up,” said Shelley, who guided PHS to a 12-11 record and the second round of the state tournament last winter in his debut season at the helm of the program. “I want to stay positive but I want it to be a learning experience.”

Shelley saw plenty of positives on the offensive end as PYS jumped out to a 30-11 halftime lead in the victory over WTG.

“What I like is that I thought we took smart shots,” said Shelley, who got 14 points from Paul Murray on the evening with Kevin Kane scoring 12 and Matt Vasseur chipping in 10.

“It helps when you shoot well. For the most part, one of our issues with a lot of new people is some of them can be good shooters in practice but they force shots in the game. We talked about a lot about going inside out, whether it is with the post or with dribble penetration and kicks and almost all of our threes tonight were on that.”

PYS also played some good defense, giving up only two points in the first 10 minutes of the contest.

“We have worked a lot on communicating within the zone and I think you heard them talking a lot on defense tonight,” said Shelley.

“The defense was really solid and the other team said a couple of things to me about that.”

Despite having produced some solid performances this summer, the win over WTG marked a breakthrough for PYS as the team improved to 1-5.

“We come in with the attitude that we just want to play well and if we get beat by 15, that is fine,” said Shelley.

“It is nice to win. We were missing a lot of key players [Peter Mahotiere, Cal O’Meara, Matt Hart, and Andrew Braverman] and we talked before the game about the secondary break and certain things and we did those things.”

Over the course of the summer, the PHS players have been doing a lot of things to get better.

“We have had a lot of open gyms where they do an hour of drills and then they scrimmage,” said Shelley.

“I don’t coach during the scrimmages, I just let them play 5-on-5. We went to the University’s team camp and we played six or seven games there in a weekend. Our JVs are playing in a league in Hillsborough with a lot of Group IV teams like Piscataway, and other big-time competition. The JVs were at the University camp too.”

In Shelley’s view, there is a dual focus to the competition this summer. “One is individual; we want them to work on what they are not good at,” explained Shelley.

“We give them things at the end of the season and over the summer and a lot of them come and ask us what can I work on. The other thing is the team-building thing. It is bonding and learning each other’s tendencies. For Peter and Cal, it is knowing that without Lior [Levy] and Scotty [Bechler], they have to score more, not 20 a game but they have to be around 10 or 12 a game. It is getting confidence in these younger guards.”

Shelley is confident that the work everyone around the program is putting in this summer will pay dividends over the winter.

“They know what we are looking for; it is so much easier for me now,” said Shelley.

“I took over last year in the fall and that was hard, it was late. This is a lot better. We are able to put our summer program together and the other coaches are on the same page as I am in terms of what we are looking for from the kids. It has been a real good summer so far and the guys have enjoyed it. We have realistic expectations; we are losing some really good players but we feel good about the balance we have, that is the big thing.”

MILE HIGH: Jeremy Sallade, 8, of Princeton flies to the finish line in winning a heat at the recently-held Princeton Community Mile. The third annual mile event, hosted by the Princeton Athletic Club (PAC), took place at the Hun School track. Princeton resident Michael Fonder provided a highlight of the evening as he set a new event record with a time of 4:27.0. (Photo by Bonnie Davis, Courtesy of the Princeton Athletic Club)

MILE HIGH: Jeremy Sallade, 8, of Princeton flies to the finish line in winning a heat at the recently-held Princeton Community Mile. The third annual mile event, hosted by the Princeton Athletic Club (PAC), took place at the Hun School track. Princeton resident Michael Fonder provided a highlight of the evening as he set a new event record with a time of 4:27.0.
(Photo by Bonnie Davis, Courtesy of the Princeton Athletic Club)

Billing itself as a community of runners within the Princeton community, the Princeton Athletic Club (PAC) recently held two events which are becoming annual fixtures on the local running scene.

In mid-June, the PAC held its third annual mile running event, the Princeton Community Mile, at The Hun School track.

The competition featured four heats so that participants had the opportunity to run with others of similar paces.

“The weather was great, high 70s and sunny,” said event director David
Kimmel of the PAC.

“We also had a number of people come back from past years, and it was good to see several families sign up and run. Sometimes a parent was running in one heat and their kids in another, and they took turns cheering each other on.”

In the final heat of the evening, Princeton resident Michael Fonder set a new Princeton Community Mile record with a time of 4:27.0. Chris Sallade finished second in 4:44.1 with Noah Chen taking third in 5:05.3.

The top finisher in the first heat was 8-year old Princeton
resident Jeremy Sallade with a time of 7:05.2, followed by Steve Dans in 7:13.7 and Stephanie Weber in 7:21.7. In the second heat, Princeton resident Jamie Reuland finished first with a time of 6:46.8, followed by Gourin Bhagavathi in 6:55.4 and Euen Ekman-Gunn in 7:05.6. In the third heat, Princeton resident Clara Blättler finished first and recorded the fastest female time of the evening as she ran 5:52.9, followed by Rob Borham in 5:57.4 and Rich O’Brien in 6:02.9.

A week later, PAC returned to Hun for its All-Comers Track Event, which included a 3,000-meter run, an 800-meter run, a 100-meter dash, and a 4×400 relay.

Benefitting from another good weather night with clear skies and temperatures in the mid-70’s, the meet attracted a good turnout. In the 3,000 meter run, Princeton High track star Jacob Rist took first in a time of 9:34.4. The top women’s finisher in the 3,000 was Erin Grosskurth of Dix Hills, N.Y., as she finished in 12:35.2.

In the 100 dash, the men’s winner was Romano Foti of Princeton with a time of 12.2 while Blättler was the fastest woman as she clocked a time of 13.5.

In the 800-meter run, Rist posted his second win of the evening with a time of 2:05.4. Jadee Gordon of Trenton was the first woman, clocking a 2:42.1. In the 4×400 meter relay, the quartet of of Noam Chen, Alex Harvey, Antonio Pinheiro, and Rist, all of Princeton, placed first in 4:01.3.

July 10, 2013
TITLE DEFENSE: Holly McGarvie Reilly, middle, marks an Australian player in action last fall for the U.S. women’s lacrosse national team. Reilly, a former Princeton University lacrosse and field hockey star, is currently in Canada competing for the U.S. in the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s World Cup from July 10-20 in Oshawa, Ontario. Reilly starred in the 2009 World Cup as the U.S. edged Australia 8-7 in the championship game in Prague, Czech Republic.(Photo by Gani Pinero, Courtesy of US Lacrosse)

TITLE DEFENSE: Holly McGarvie Reilly, middle, marks an Australian player in action last fall for the U.S. women’s lacrosse national team. Reilly, a former Princeton University lacrosse and field hockey star, is currently in Canada competing for the U.S. in the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s World Cup from July 10-20 in Oshawa, Ontario. Reilly starred in the 2009 World Cup as the U.S. edged Australia 8-7 in the championship game in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Gani Pinero, Courtesy of US Lacrosse)

Holly McGarvie Reilly has been busy on many fronts since helping the U.S. squad win the gold medal at the 2009 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s World Cup.

After the tournament, former Princeton University standout Reilly ’09 headed to England where she taught and coached at a small private school, Berkhamsted School in Hertfordshire. She returned to the U.S., teaching and starting the girls’ lacrosse program at Ballou High in the inner city of Washington, D.C.

Off the field, she married Princeton classmate Brendan Reilly, a Tiger men’s lax tri-captain, in 2012. Her husband, a Marine, is stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County and the couple now lives in southern California where Reilly works from home on the sales team of TroopSwap, an online military marketplace.

But as the 2013 World Cup approached, Reilly cleared her calendar to go on another run for the U.S. Despite having trained sporadically over the last four years, Reilly made the squad as a defender and will be in action at the tournament which runs from July 10-20 in Oshawa, Ontario.

“For me, this is my team now,” said Reilly, who was a two-time lax All-American during her Princeton career and also made All-Ivy in field hockey for the Tigers.

“I never felt like that when I was at Princeton. I was focused on field hockey and lacrosse because that only lasts four years. It doesn’t replace the other teams but it is the team I focus on now.”

Since moving to California, Reilly has been able to focus more on lacrosse. “This past year, I have been able to play more,” said Reilly.

“There is beautiful weather out here. I work with a trainer on my speed. I am also working with Glen Miles who used to play on the U.S. men’s lacrosse team way back when. He played at Navy in the 1980s and retired as a pilot in 2006. I work with him on stick skills. I can go one-on-one against him and work on game situations.”

Reilly needed to have her skills up to snuff in order to survive the arduous tryout process which began with a training camp last August with 36 players on hand. There were games in October and more training in December. Then 24 players went to the Champions Cup in Orlando early this year from which the final squad of 18 was selected.

“I knew what was at stake,” said Reilly, reflecting on the selection procedure.

“I was  committed to training hard and making the team. I am so fortunate and humbled to make this team.”

Reilly counts herself fortunate to have had the experience of winning the gold medal in 2009 when the U.S. edged Australia 8-7 in the championship game in Prague, Czech Republic.

“It seems so far away; I feel like I was still such a baby,” said McGarvie Reilly, reflecting on the competition where she tallied five points on three goals and two assists and ranked second on the U.S. team with 17 draw controls.

“I am at a different stage of my life now. I am one of the veteran players. I have a level of experience. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in 2009; I would do anything they asked. I am still enthusiastic but I have more of a sense of what is going to happen. I know what the next 20 days entails. I continue to get better. The move to defense from midfield has been a big help. I was always more of a defensive player. My mindset is more of a defender.”

The U.S. squad will be working hard to regain that winning mindset as it girds for the tournament.

“We are in Baltimore from June 30 to July 2; we are in Buffalo from July 2-8 and then we go to Canada,” said Reilly.

“We will have 2-a-days. In Buffalo, we will start tapering off. We need to prepare for more than you have to play. We need to peak at the right time. We need to have the endurance to do game, break, and game. We know what we have to do to get ready.”

Reilly acknowledges that the U.S. has to be ready for a battle as it looks to successfully defend its title.

“I think we have a pretty big target on our backs,” said Reilly. “The teams gear up for you, they want to knock you down when you are the champions. We played Australia and England in the fall; they played us hard.”

But the U.S is less concerned about its foes than simply playing its game and staying in the moment. “We need to focus on our mission,” said Reilly.

“We need to stay passionate. The talent we have is so impressive. But collectively we are the biggest threat. We also need to enjoy it. We will play hard but we need to enjoy the great plays and the great moments. I remember laughing on the field in 2009.”

While Reilly may have learned to savor the highlights, she hasn’t lost the feistiness that has made her great since her high school days at Shawnee High in Medford, New Jersey.

“I think it is about being a public school kid,” said Reilly. “I am scrappy and tough. I have a Jersey girl attitude; I fight to the last.”

ISRAELI FORCE: Sam Ellis looks for an opening in action this past spring during her senior season with the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team. Ellis is continuing her lax career by competing for the inaugural Israeli team in the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s World Cup, which is taking place from July 10-20 in Oshawa, Ontario. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ISRAELI FORCE: Sam Ellis looks for an opening in action this past spring during her senior season with the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team. Ellis is continuing her lax career by competing for the inaugural Israeli team in the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s World Cup, which is taking place from July 10-20 in Oshawa, Ontario.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Sam Ellis and her teammates on the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team were fired up to get a chance to compete in the NCAA tournament this May.

After falling to Dartmouth in the semifinals of the Ivy League tourney, the Tigers weren’t sure if they were going to be invited to take part in the chase for the national crown.

“We were on the edge of our seats for the weekend; we were excited to get in,” said attacker Ellis. “That week of practice was the hardest I have ever seen our team work.”

Facing Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament, that work showed as Princeton pushed the Blue Devils hard before falling 10-9 in overtime. “In the game against Duke, everyone gave their all,” said Ellis.

“The coaches were not mad at us afterward because they knew everyone played so hard. It was the luck of the draw that we lost, it was close the entire game.”

While Ellis was proud of Princeton’s effort, it was a disappointing way to close out her college lacrosse career.

“It was pretty sad; it was tough to lose, we didn’t want to leave the field,” recalled Ellis.

“They had to kick us off the field, everyone was hugging. I was sad for my family, I am the youngest kid so this is it for them. It was tough to say goodbye to college lacrosse.”

Although making that farewell was tough, Ellis will be getting back on the field this week as she heads to Canada to compete for the inaugural Israeli women’s national team at the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s World Cup from July 10-20 in Oshawa, Ontario.

For Ellis, the process of making the Israeli squad began this past winter. “I had a high school friend who played for the men’s team so I knew Israeli lacrosse was in existence,” said Ellis.

“My mom kept checking the website and found out about the tryout. The tryout was in January at Peddie. There were 20 spots but they were only recruiting 10 from the states. There were 50 or so girls, from high school players to after college.”

Putting her best foot forward in the tryout was a little tricky as Ellis had to show off her skills but also demonstrate that she could work well with her potential teammates.

“It was just three hours; it was interesting,” said Ellis. “I had never played with someone besides the Princeton players in college. I needed to learn what they could do and how to make them look good. You want to showcase your skills but you also have to show you fit in with the team.”

Ellis was thrilled to make the squad, which includes players from such high-quality college lacrosse programs as the University of Maryland, Penn, Dartmouth, James Madison, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, and Yale.

“I didn’t find out about it until March,” said Ellis, noting there was a Skype interview and a phone interview with the coach after the tryout.

“I thought oh my God this is amazing. I was raised Jewish and I am proud of it. Being American, I had to apply for Israeli citizenship. It is eye-opening to become a citizen. It is exciting to have this experience; it is the inaugural women’s team. I am thankful to be involved and hoping to make a name for Israel.”

Prior to the competition, Ellis and her teammates headed to Ashkelon, Israel from July 4-8 to put in their final preparations.

“We are going to be in camp for a week with 2-a-days and that fun stuff,” said Ellis, noting that she took a short break after the NCAAs to rest her body.

“I think we can come together. We will be living together so that should help. We all know what we have to do. You always want more time. I think we have some great players.”

Ellis’ special time at Princeton will hold her in good stead as she hits the world stage.

“I have definitely learned a lot about myself; it was quite an experience,” said Ellis, who scored 20 points on 16 goals and four assists in her senior year and ended her career with 70 points on 47 goals and 23 assists.

“I didn’t have a great freshman year. I had to work hard to get on the field. I had to go through a lot of injuries. I had surgeries and epidurals, I never wanted to give up. I never felt so passionate about something. Things fell into place. All that I had to go through was worth it. I am glad I never gave up.”

With Israel competing in Pool D of the tournament along with Scotland, Germany, and Korea, Ellis is planning to show her passion. “I want to do something equivalent to my senior year; I would love to make an impact and make a name for Israel,” said Ellis. “I want to score a lot of goals.”

A key goal of the World Cup effort is to grow the game of lacrosse in Israel. “Our marketing guys have said there is no sport that Israel is known for and this could be our chance,” said Ellis.

“You want to get as far as you can; it will be incredible however far we go. I think we have a lot of talent, I am excited about our chances.”

Noting that the World Cup will likely be her final taste of competitive lacrosse, Ellis is primed for an incredible 10 days.

“This is it for me, I think,” said Ellis. “I am definitely going to savor the whole experience. It is going to be cool going to the World Cup.”

JOURNEY’S END: Six Princeton High runners are all smiles after they finished a 139.3 mile run down the New Jersey coast to raise money to rebuild sand dunes damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Pictured, from left, are Evie Bentch, Paige Metzheiser, Laure Hartmanshenn, Raakel ­Vuojolainen, Julie Bond, and Lou Mialhe. The girls traveled 15 miles a day on their 9-day journey from Sandy Hook to Cape May.

JOURNEY’S END: Six Princeton High runners are all smiles after they finished a 139.3 mile run down the New Jersey coast to raise money to rebuild sand dunes damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Pictured, from left, are Evie Bentch, Paige Metzheiser, Laure Hartmanshenn, Raakel ­Vuojolainen, Julie Bond, and Lou Mialhe. The girls traveled 15 miles a day on their 9-day journey from Sandy Hook to Cape May.

The idea of running around 135 miles in nine days on the Jersey shore this summer to raise funds for Hurricane Sandy relief seemed far-fetched to Lou Mialhe at first.

“I heard about it a couple of months ago; I didn’t think that it was that realistic,” said Princeton High runner Mialhe, noting that track teammates Julie Bond and Paige Metzheiser formulated the plan.

“I thought they were just joking around. Julie initiated everything and when she mapped out all of the routes, I realized that it was going to happen.”

Once Mialhe realized that the project, which was done in conjunction with the Alliance for a Living Ocean to raise funds to rebuild dunes damaged by the superstorm, was coming to fruition, she was all in.

“First of all I really liked the girls; we are all good friends and runners,” said Mialhe, who was joined in the effort by Evie Bentch, Laure Hartmanshenn, and Raakel Vuojolainen, in addition to Bond and Metzheiser.

“It was also a good idea to do something to help the shore. I love the beach and the dunes and I knew so much damage had resulted from Hurricane Sandy.”

The girls took off on June 24 on a route that started in Sandy Hook and ended in Cape May.

“It was really great; I really enjoyed running on the boardwalk,” said Mialhe, reflecting on the group’s first day on the road.

“We were wearing shirts that said what we were doing and people would stop and talk with us and clap for us.”

There was some trial and error involved as the girls figured out the best way to handle their daily 15-mile journey.

“At first we were doing four miles of running and one mile walking but that was way too hard,” said Mialhe, noting that the runs started early in the morning and ended by noon each day and that the group ended up covering a total of 139.3 miles.

“Then we went to eight minutes running and two minutes walking but we wanted to break longer. We finally decided on two-and-a-half miles running and a half-mile of walking. All of us ran together and each girl covered 15 miles a day.”

Things did drag at times as the girls headed inland for part of the trip.

“We ran two days on Route 9,” said Mialhe, noting that one of the girls’ parents always accompanied the pack in a chase car and that they spent nights at beach homes of family or friends. “Those were boring days; we were not on the beach.”

For Mialhe, a highlight came on one of the beach runs near the end of the trek. “I really enjoyed Ocean City,” said Mialhe. “I had never been there before and I thought it was really interesting.”

With such an ambitious undertaking, aches and pains were inevitable. “After day three, my quads were very sore,” said Mialhe.

“The other girls were sore too so we spent an hour stretching and icing everyday. We all helped each other on the run. If someone was falling off, we would run behind her,”

On the final day, Mialhe experienced mixed emotions. “It was such a great adventure; I didn’t want it to end,” said Mialhe. “There was a lot of sadness.”

While Mialhe was sorry to see the run end, she is hopeful the group may do other fundraising activities in the future.

“It was a lot of fun; we were living with each other for 10 days,” said Mialhe, noting that the fundraising goal was $5,000 and that contributions of around $4,000 had been raised by the end of the run.

“There was a sense of accomplishment. I feel like I would do it again; it was such an interesting experience. We are talking about organizing something else and making it a regular thing.”

In the short term, making the journey should pay dividends for PHS when cross country season rolls around.

“It was great training,” said Mialhe. “If we can keep that shape, it should really help us for cross country.”

But no matter what happens this fall, Mialhe and her friends have already done a great thing.

BANNER DAY: Members of the Princeton Little League (PLL) 10-year-old all stars celebrate last Friday after topping Sunnybrae 9-5 to win the District 12 title. It is believed to be the PLL’s first District 12 crown. The team includes Jason Ramirez, Jake Renda, Evan Lilienthal, Dylan Ridall, Tommy Delany, Dylan Angelucci, Ben Petrone, Patrick McDonald, Aidan Regan, Boaz Segal, Drew Petrone, and Jaxon Petrone. The team is coached by Mike Petrone, Ryan Lilienthal, and John Angelucci.

BANNER DAY: Members of the Princeton Little League (PLL) 10-year-old all stars celebrate last Friday after topping Sunnybrae 9-5 to win the District 12 title. It is believed to be the PLL’s first District 12 crown. The team includes Jason Ramirez, Jake Renda, Evan Lilienthal, Dylan Ridall, Tommy Delany, Dylan Angelucci, Ben Petrone, Patrick McDonald, Aidan Regan, Boaz Segal, Drew Petrone, and Jaxon Petrone. The team is coached by Mike Petrone, Ryan Lilienthal, and John Angelucci.

Even though the Princeton Little League (PLL) 10-year-old all stars squandered an early four-run lead against Sunnybrae last Friday in the championship round of the District 12 tournament, Ben Petrone didn’t lose faith.

“I knew we could get more hits and more runs so I was not really concerned,” said Petrone, the Princeton shortstop and leadoff hitter.

“We were really confident, we knew we could do it. We were hitting the ball great.”

In the bottom of the second, Petrone came up with a big hit, knocking in Dylan Angelucci to help Princeton regain the lead at 5-4.

“I just wanted to knock him in any way I could and get on base,” said Petrone, reflecting on his clutch single.

Princeton never looked back, building a 6-4 lead in the second and going on to a 9-5 win and what is believed to be the PLL’s first District 12 crown.

In reflecting on Princeton’s 5-0 run through the tournament, Petrone cited the squad’s versatility as a key factor.

“I think we are a great all around team,” asserted Petrone. “We can pitch, we can run, play defense, and hit.”

Petrone, for his part, contributed both offensively and defensively, hitting .867 (13-for-15) in the tournament with 11 runs and playing superbly at shortstop.

“Every time I get up I try to get on base and get things started,” said Petrone.

“When it gets hit to me in the field, I try to make the play.”

Petrone’s father, Mike Petrone, the team’s manager, was confident his team would make the plays against Sunnybrae.

“Sunnybrae is a tough team, they are not going to go away easily,” said Petrone.

“We were going to stay tough and bounce back and we did. We have been swinging the bat great all tournament and we kept scoring runs.”

The team’s combative approach at the plate paid dividends. “We have nine kids who can hit,” said Petrone, whose team averaged 10.2 runs a contest in the tourney.

“Little League baseball is never going to be perfect; they are not major leaguers defensively. The theme at the beginning was to wear your hitting shoes, swing, and be aggressive and we kept doing that all through the tournament.”

Petrone’s son took that message to heart. “Ben has had a great tournament; he has gotten hit after hit,” said Petrone.

“He has scored a lot of runs and has played great defense at shortstop. He gets the other guys going and keep their heads in the game so he has done a great job.”

Princeton got some great pitching in the finale from starter Jake Renda and reliever Tommy Delany Renda went 4 and 1/3 innings and was sharp with the exception of the second while Delany came on to get the last five outs and worked out of a jam in the sixth after Sunnybrae got two on.

“Jake has had a tremendous tournament; he is the best pitcher in District 12,” said Petrone.

“He had a rough second inning; he stuck it out and pitched great. Tommy is tough as nails; he is the guy I want to have on the mound to get the last out. “

Based on the way Princeton prepared for the tournament, Petrone believed the team would be a tough out.

“We practiced hard every day and we got them focused and ready to play and put them in a position to win,” said Petrone. “At the end of the day, they did the job and played well.”

In the end, the squad achieved an historic breakthrough for the PLL program.

“It is a big accomplishment, the kids are proud,” said Petrone, whose team fell 9-5 to Middletown last Monday in the first round of the double-elimination Section 3 tournament.

“We have gotten great support from the parents and other people in the league and friends. It has been a wonderful thing.”

The younger Petrone has enjoyed the team’s wonderful run. “It was great; it was really fun to play,” said Petrone. “From the tryout, we knew we would be a good team. We looked really good from the first day.”

BEAU HUNTING: Beau Horan waits for a pitch in action during his Princeton Day School career. This past spring, infielder Horan made his college baseball debut as he played infield for the Williams College team.

BEAU HUNTING: Beau Horan waits for a pitch in action during his Princeton Day School career. This past spring, infielder Horan made his college baseball debut as he played infield for the Williams College team.

Beau Horan started his Williams College baseball career with a bang this March on a season-opening trip to Arizona.

The former Princeton Day School standout got a hit in his first at-bat in their 9-3 win over Wisconsin Superior on March 18 and then went 7-for-18 with six runs and six RBIs in his next six appearances.

“In the first game, I got in as a defensive replacement and in the second game, I took an at-bat,” said infielder Horan.

“I got a curve and hit a little blooper that fell in. It was nice to get out there and get a hit. The first base coach said ‘see how easy it is.’ I played my best ball of the spring in Arizona. I was competing with some other guys for shortstop and second base and I really wanted to make an impression and solidify my spot.”

For Horan, earning that spot was the culmination of an effort that started when he entered PDS.

“As a kid, everyone dreams of being in the major leagues; logically you realize at some point that isn’t going to happen and that college ball is the next thing,” said Horan.

“In my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I was starting to focus on it. I went to a lot of college showcases after my junior year. Right off the bat, I wanted to go to a school that was well off academically. You can’t depend on having a career in baseball. I was initially looking at Ivy schools like Princeton and Columbia. I realized that those programs might not work out. I had gotten a lot of looks from Division III schools so I realized that was my best option.”

Horan travelled to the northwestern corner of Massachusetts and found his best option in D-III Williams.

“Williams was the only school where I went on an official visit,” said Horan.

“I visited a couple of times over the summer when no students were there. I came in early October. I got to see the community and go to classes. I really enjoyed it, I learned a lot, I met some great people. Williams is quite the place.”

Upon starting college last September, Horan started his baseball learning curve with fall ball.

“We went on the field every other day and the other days we were weightlifting,” said Horan.

“In the beginning we did a lot of batting practice and took grounders. Near the end, we did some intra-squad stuff. That was a big help for me.”

While the preseason was spent mainly indoors, it helped acclimate Horan to what he would be facing in the spring.

“February 15 was the first day of real practice,” said Horan. “We were in the field house, we only got outside once before we went to Arizona. There are two cages, you can set up infield and take ground balls. It is a little tough for outfielders because the roof isn’t high enough for fly balls so they work more on their hitting. We have live pitching and live batting toward the end and work on game situations.”

After his hot start, Horan hit a tough stretch as Williams got into New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) play.

“The quality of pitching is a big difference,” said Horan, who ended up batting .195 with 15 hits in 77 at-bats in 29 games as the Ephs went 15-23.

“Also you have scouting reports in college. In high school, you have seen some of the guys in travel ball. In college, you get information on the pitchers and a list of batters with their tendencies and details on who can run and who is hitting the ball well. I had to adjust to the league games, those games were really hyped up. It was scouting three pitchers against our three best pitchers and every pitch and every at-bat matters. It is a higher level of intensity.”

This summer, Horan is keeping his intensity up by playing for the Jersey Pilots in the high-level Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League (ACBL).

“It is a better quality of baseball,” noted Horan, who was hitting .180 (9-for-50) through 19 games with the Pilots.

“It is mostly D-I guys. We have three D-III guys and they play on Kean which is one of the top D-III programs. It is a really tough league, I am getting adjusted to the pitching. I am going against guys who played for Rutgers, Rider, and Siena. I am hanging in there. I am working on becoming a better batter and going against guys like that will help me.”

As he looks ahead to his sophomore season, Horan is confident that he can be a better player for Williams.

“I won’t be surprised by things as a sophomore; I know what the coach is looking for,” said Horan.

“I know what the workouts are about. I want to put my best out there. I won’t be as worried about my spot and I think that will help me.”

BIG SKYE: Skye Ettin puts up a shot in action for The College of New Jersey men’s basketball team. This summer, former Princeton High star Ettin, who is a rising TCNJ junior and team captain, organized the Sneakers Plus entry into the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League, a team comprised entirely of his college teammates. Last Monday, Ettin scored a game-high 23 points as Sneakers Plus topped Dr. Palmer 59-51 in improving to 4-2. In other action, Steve Harris scored 20 points and former PHS standout Matt Hoffman chipped in 13 as Northeast Realty topped the Ballerz 52-40 while Clear View Window Cleaning edged Ivy Inn 44-42.

BIG SKYE: Skye Ettin puts up a shot in action for The College of New Jersey men’s basketball team. This summer, former Princeton High star Ettin, who is a rising TCNJ junior and team captain, organized the Sneakers Plus entry into the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League, a team comprised entirely of his college teammates. Last Monday, Ettin scored a game-high 23 points as Sneakers Plus topped Dr. Palmer 59-51 in improving to 4-2. In other action, Steve Harris scored 20 points and former PHS standout Matt Hoffman chipped in 13 as Northeast Realty topped the Ballerz 52-40 while Clear View Window Cleaning edged Ivy Inn 44-42.

Last winter, Skye Ettin and The College of New Jersey men’s basketball struggled through a 5-20 season.

The former Princeton High star, who is a rising TCNJ junior and team captain, decided that the squad could benefit from spending some time this summer in his neck of the woods.

As a result, Ettin organized the Sneakers Plus entry into the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League, a team comprised entirely of TCNJ players.

“I was captain last year and being a second year captain is something that has led me to take on more leadership because we are a young team,” said Ettin.

“We only graduate one next year so I wanted to set this up in my hometown and get us going in the right direction, doing some summer workouts and captain’s practices. In the fall, everyone will be on the same page in how we need to work to be successful. We have struggled in the past as far as doing all the right things we need to do in the offseason; I think this is the first step to the success we need to have.”

Last Monday evening, Sneakers Plus took a big step in the right direction as it topped powerful Dr. Palmer 59-51 in summer hoops action.

“We had already lost to two of the better teams in the league and we wanted to just make sure that we were ready to play for this game so we came out with some fire,” said Ettin.

“We know they are a good team with great players so we wanted to try to get a win against a quality team and prove that we can play with anyone in the league and compete. I think we did that tonight and we made a statement. I am excited for postseason and what the rest of the season will bring.”

With Ettin on fire as he scored 13 points in the first half, Sneakers Plus built a 31-22 lead by intermission. Things got a little dicey as Dr. Palmer cut the gap to 51-46 with about six minutes to go in the second half. Sneakers Plus, though, didn’t lose its composure and pulled away to the victory as it improved to 4-2.

“I think we kept our cool, that was the main part,” said Ettin, who ended up with a game-high 23 points.

“We go up and play well like we did in the first half tonight and then we let teams get back into the game, which is one of the things that we need to work on. This was a really good test for us because they are skilled guys and they got it to five and we panicked a little bit and then we took control of the ball. We adjusted to running some of our sets in the end when they went to man. I am happy.”

Ettin was happy with the way he played in the win, staying hot to the final whistle.

“I thought my shot was falling early because they were sitting in the 2-3 zone and the high post is something I try to make my living on,” said the 6’5, 170-pound Ettin, who averaged 9.8 points a game for TCNJ in the 2012-13 campaign.

“I feel real comfortable at the high post and they were falling early so I tried to stay aggressive. I think the biggest thing for me out there and especially during the season is my consistency level. I can come out and have these type of games. For me, working on making shots every night and being aggressive and taking those shots is the first step in the right direction.”

In Ettin’s view, the work that Sneakers Plus is putting in this summer will help TCNJ get on the right track this winter.

“I think this is the best thing we could have done; getting the guys together and working on our chemistry so we can go into the season a step ahead of some teams and just a step ahead for us in general,” said Ettin.

“We can put coach [Kelly Williams] in a position where we are putting in new stuff and not working on our old habits. Every second we are out here is momentum going into our season.”

July 3, 2013
STAR TURN: Jen Hoy, right, controls the ball last fall in her final campaign with the Princeton University women’s soccer team. The Sellersville, Pa. native produced a brilliant senior season which saw her score 18 goals and earn Ivy League Player of the Year and second-team All-American honors on the way to leading Princeton to the league crown and a win in the NCAA tournament. Propelled by her big fall, Hoy is now playing in the pro ranks, competing for the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STAR TURN: Jen Hoy, right, controls the ball last fall in her final campaign with the Princeton University women’s soccer team. The Sellersville, Pa. native produced a brilliant senior season which saw her score 18 goals and earn Ivy League Player of the Year and second-team All-American honors on the way to leading Princeton to the league crown and a win in the NCAA tournament. Propelled by her big fall, Hoy is now playing in the pro ranks, competing for the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though Jen Hoy’s internship with Barclays took up most of her time last summer, that didn’t keep her from preparing hard for her final season on the Princeton University women’s soccer team.

“I was working long hours and I had to work out at night; I was playing in a league in the city on the weekends,” said Hoy, who had tallied a total of 18 goals in her first three college campaigns as the Tigers posted an overall record of 22-23-5.

“I was not satisfied with how we had done so far; I wanted to do everything I could to help the team and I was not going to stop until we were winning.”

Once Hoy got back to Princeton last fall, the speedy forward was an unstoppable force. The Sellersville, Pa. native scored 18 goals as the Tigers won the Ivy League title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, finishing with a final record of 14-4-1 overall and 7-0 Ivy.

Hoy earned a slew of awards for her stunning campaign, including Ivy Player of the Year, second-team All-American, and the C. Otto von Kienbusch Award as one of Princeton’s top senior female student-athletes.

“It was that attitude and the success that came from it that helped me be able to get into this position,” said Hoy, who ended up with 36 goals in her Tiger career, fourth-most in program history, and was a three-time All-Ivy choice.

“There was a sense of urgency; I was attacking the season and things came from that. We just clicked, it didn’t come down to any one thing. Everyone bought into the season and our team goals. I am so incredibly thankful for the awards and honors. At the end of the day, what means the most to me is that the team came together and won the title. In soccer, you can’t do anything alone.”

By virtue of finishing her college career with a bang, Hoy achieved goals of competing with the national program and joining a professional soccer team, as she played with the U.S. Under-23 national team this spring and signed with the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League after being drafted in January.

For Hoy, getting the call to the U-23 squad was a dream come true. “I was in school in my dorm room after going to Red Stars camp and I had a missed call from Es [Princeton assistant coach and Tiger all-time leading scorer Esmeralda Negron],” recalled Hoy.

“I played the voice mail and Es said ‘Jen I hope you had a nice trip back; you have been called to train with the U-23 team.’ I had thought about that for so long; there was a lot of jumping around. I had never played for one of the younger U.S. teams.”

Jumping at the chance to showcase her skills on a national level, Hoy scored a goal for the U-23 squad in an April 16 match against the US U-20 team.

“It was really exciting to get to know the high-level players and coaches,” said Hoy.

“A lot of people struggle in their first camp; it is hard to be competent. I struggled. Getting a goal made me more confident. I thought of coach Shackford [Princeton head coach Julie Shackford]. It was the type of goal she was always talking about. I was paying attention, the defender made a mistake, I stole a pass and scored with my left foot.”

Hoy trained with the U-23 squad again in May and is hoping for more action with the program.

“I was personally not satisfied with the May camp, I pulled a quad so that didn’t help,” said Hoy.

“It all depends on how you do at the camps; they have another camp coming up in a couple of months.”

Prior to her U-23 call up, Hoy was chosen by the Chicago Red Stars in the inaugural draft of the National Women’s Soccer League. She took part in a camp with the Red Stars in March, turning heads as she picked up an assist in a 2-0 win over Marquette in a scrimmage.

“It was a great way to put an end to my college career; I was not ready to be done with soccer,” said Hoy, reflecting on getting a chance to play for the Red Stars.

“I had wanted it but I didn’t expect it. The camp in March went really well. I set up a program with my strength coach, lifting, cardio, and playing. I was really prepared. I was fortunate to play well and get an offer.”

Finishing her classwork at Princeton after the March camp, Hoy headed to Chicago right after commencement.

“I graduated on June 4, drove out there on June 5, and joined the team on June 6,” said Hoy.

“It was good that I came out before because I got to know the girls. I really like my teammates and it was an easier transition.”

Since arriving, Hoy logged 49 minutes of action in two appearances, slowed by her nagging quad injury.

“It is difficult to compare pros to college; both are very fast-paced games,” said Hoy, whose calling card is blazing runs to goal.

“You are going against high quality players and mistakes can come back to bite you. If you lose the ball, it can end up being a goal for the other team. We have some national team players like Shannon Boxx; it is great playing with players you have looked up to for so long.”

Confident that she can rehab her injury and get back on the field, Hoy is looking to help the 3-6-3 Red Stars make a playoff push in the eight-team league that has regular season play running into mid-August.

“As a rookie, nothing much is expected of you so you can do anything,” said Hoy. “I want to help the team continue to win and make a positive contribution, whatever that means.”

Noting how far she has come since last summer, Hoy is looking to stay in the game as long as possible.

“Ideally I will play for at least another year,” said Hoy. “It is all about performance. If I play well, I can stick with it a little
longer.”