August 27, 2014
DOUBLE TAKE: Erin Reelick pulls hard in a race this spring for the Princeton University women’s open rowing varsity 8. Last month, rising junior Reelick pulled off a rare feat, earning double gold at the World Rowing U-23 Championships. She helped both the U.S. 4- and 8+ prevail in the regatta at Varese, Italy.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Rowing)

DOUBLE TAKE: Erin Reelick pulls hard in a race this spring for the Princeton University women’s open rowing varsity 8. Last month, rising junior Reelick pulled off a rare feat, earning double gold at the World Rowing U-23 Championships. She helped both the U.S. 4- and 8+ prevail in the regatta at Varese, Italy. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Rowing)

Erin Reelick was originally on the outside looking in this spring when it came to the U.S. U-23 rowing program despite emerging as a star for the Princeton University women’s open squad.

“I was initially wait-listed,” said Reelick, who made the varsity 8 as a freshman and helped the boat place second at the 2013 NCAA championships.

“There was one big camp for the 8, 4, pair, and quad. I was not one of the 18 or 19 invited.”

But after helping the Princeton varsity 8 win the Ivy League championship this spring in her sophomore campaign, Reelick got her chance to try out for the  U.S. team.

“After the Ivy regatta, I got an e-mail from the coach asking me if I wanted to come out and I said of course,” said Reelick.

Once in the training camp, Reelick focused on giving her best everyday.

“Going into it was a little tough, I was the last person invited,” said Reelick. “I had the mentality of just trying to get through each day. A few of the other girls felt that way and that helped.”

Reelick got through the camp and ended up getting named to both the U.S. 4- and 8+. She went on to help the U.S. earn gold in both events last month at the  World Rowing U-23 Championships in Varese, Italy.

“I never expected to make it there and we were able to pull it off,” said Reelick.

“It was such an amazing experience as a whole, meeting different people and rowing for a different coach.”

Reelick’s rowing experience has been intertwined with her older sister Kelsey, who graduated from Princeton this June after starring for the Tiger women’s program.

Following in her sister’s footsteps, Reelick took up the sport as a sophomore in high school although it wasn’t love at first sight.

“It wasn’t really huge fun for me as a sophomore, I still liked other sports more,” said Reelick, a native of Brookfield, Conn. who also played basketball and soccer.

“I became captivated with rowing in my junior year. The fact that it combines technical emphasis with being in top physical shape kept me mentally into it.”

When it came to rowing in college, Reelick was influenced by her older sister’s example.

“I was considering Princeton, Harvard, and Yale,” said Reelick. “My sister played a big role, the idea of her being there was a plus. I had a campus overnight visit and I met Lori (Princeton head coach Lori Dauphiny) and the girls and I liked the dynamic in the boathouse.”

Dealing with the new dynamic of college as a freshman proved to be a challenge for Reelick.

“To be honest, balancing everything, school, rowing, and social life was a big change,” said Reelick.

“The pure volume of workload increased in every area. I struggled a little bit in the fall to get my priorities straight. I was helped by Kelsey on prioritizing.”

By the spring, Reelick was on the varsity 8, helping it to gold in the Ivy regatta and silver at the NCAAs.

“It was pretty amazing to row with those seniors, they were all amazing athletes,” said Reelick. “It was really fun being along for the ride

As a sophomore, Reelick had a smoother ride. “I was not the confused, scared freshman,” said Reelick.

“I had been there and done that and it was let’s do better. I knew what to expect and that made the year easier.”

Things didn’t come easy for the varsity 8, though, as the boat lost its first two races of the spring before going on a late-season run that saw it win its last four regular season races and then place first at the Ivy regatta.

“I think we definitely made progress,” said Reelick. “My reaction at the beginning was that the boat was not quite as fast as last year. We made huge improvements throughout. After the first dual races, we had put things in perspective. We realized that we had to work our butts off all spring.”

The spring ended on a bit of a down note as the Tigers failed to qualify for the NCAA grand final. Princeton did rebound from that setback to win the B final and place seventh overall in the country.

“The NCAA semis was very disappointing,” said Reelick, reflecting on the race which saw the Tigers take fourth, one place away from earning a spot in the grand final.

“Lori played a big part in how we did in the B final. She said that was disappointing but let’s come back tomorrow and crush it and we did. It was a good way to go out, especially for the seniors.”

This summer, Reelick wasn’t sure if the U.S. boats were going to crush it in Italy.

“The 8 was the priority boat; the 4 didn’t practice as much as the 8,” said Reelick.

“There was a lot of pressure on the 8 because of performance in past years. We didn’t feel we were quite ready. We dedicated a couple of days just to the 8 and then we had a change in the lineup and a new girl was going to stroke. That made it a little nerve-wracking.”

After a strong effort in its heat, the 4 rode a strong start in the final to earn gold.

“It was one of those moments where I was holding my breath and then settling into a rhythm,” said Reelick, who rowed from the stroke seat in the coxless boat.

“We got up and held the lead. I was waiting for the other boats to make a recovery. We wanted to keep chugging along, I was really expecting one of the other boats to come back. We did a really good job of staying ahead and the amount of time we had was enough. At 250 meters to go, I remember New Zealand coming up, they had an amazing sprint.”

While the win in the 4 was heartening, Reelick was concerned that the effort could sap the 8 since half the boat was involved in both events.

“It gave me confidence but hoped we didn’t spend everything on the 4,” said Reelick. “The training was brutal and that prepared us well for those four races. The girls in the other 8s hadn’t raced since Thursday.”

Following a similar script to the 4, the 8 charged into an early lead and held on for victory.

“At 1,000 meters, our cox made a call for fresh legs; the race announcer was saying we didn’t have fresh legs,” said Reelick. “The 8 race was pretty similar to the 4; we got up at the start and held them off.”

For Reelick, the magnitude of her racing achievement took a while to process. “I was in shock actually,” said Reelick. “It didn’t quite hit me that I had double gold until few hours later.”

Turning her focus to her junior season at Princeton, Reelick believes the Tigers have what it takes to go for gold.

“I think we have the potential to be a pretty fast boat,” said Reelick. “We have a good group of girls coming back. We have a cool group of freshmen coming in who could really help us. We learned from last year. The goal is the NCAAs; we will never forget that race.”

Princeton men's and women's crew

AMPED UP: Jamie Hamp displays his focus in action this spring for the Princeton University men’s heavyweight varsity 8. This summer, rising senior Hamp excelled on the international stage, earning a bronze medal for the U.S. men’s 8 at the World Rowing U-23 Championships. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

For Jamie Hamp, getting cut from the U.S. Under-23 team in 2012 after his freshman year with the Princeton University men’s heavyweight rowing program proved to be a blessing in disguise.

“I was on a pair that didn’t make it, we were second to the boat that went on to get fourth in the worlds,” said Hamp.

“I got coached by Justin Farrington, he knew a lot about the pairs. It improved my skills and helped me move the boat faster. The experience in small boats really helped me as I went into my sophomore season.”

During his sophomore campaign at Princeton, Hamp made the varsity 8 and helped the Tigers make the grand final (top 6) in both Eastern Sprints and the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) championship regatta.

That summer, Hamp tried out again for the U-23 squad and stuck around this time, getting picked for the men’s 8 and earning a silver medal at the World Rowing U-23 Championships.

As a junior, Hamp helped the Tigers earn a bronze medal at the Eastern Sprints and last month he medaled again at the U-23 worlds, competing for the U.S. men’s 8 that earned bronze at the competition held in Varese, Italy.

While the U.S. boat didn’t match the silver earned in 2013, Hamp was proud of the boat’s effort.

“Any medal at world championships is tough to get,” said Hamp. “There were six fast boats in that race. New Zealand and Australia both had great races and good boats. We led the race at 500 meters. I am proud that we went for it. We threw it all out there.”

Hamp, a native of North Tonawanda, N.Y., threw himself into rowing from the time he started the sport in his freshman year at Canisius High.

“I wanted to go and do something in the spring to stay in shape,” said Hamp.

“I talked to the coach and he said he thought I could be good. I enjoyed rowing a lot. We won nationals as a freshman; that was pretty fun. I rowed high school in the fall, winter, and spring and did West Side Rowing Club in the summer.”

It didn’t take long for Hamp to start thinking about rowing at the college level.

“I didn’t know much about rowing when I started, especially college rowing,” said Hamp, who also played kicker for the Canisius football team.

“As a sophomore, we had a lot of senior guys who were good and getting recruited. I talked to them and learned what was going on.”

As Hamp got into the recruiting process himself, he eventually realized that Princeton was the best fit. “I wasn’t so high on Princeton in the beginning,” said Hamp, who also considered Harvard and Cornell.

“When I did my official visit at Princeton, I really had a good time and liked the guys. Princeton was third at that point but after I did my official visits, I did a lot of thinking. I also really liked the academics at Princeton.”

Upon arriving at Princeton, Hamp relied on the more experienced guys on the team to help him adjust to college rowing.

“You have to learn to keep a level head through the season,” said Hamp, crediting teammate Will Gillis, a U-23 star himself and team captain this past season, with being a stabilizing influence.

“There are a lot of ups and downs. You can be really fast one day and then have a bad day. It was a lot of learning from the other rowers.”

Hamp had plenty of good days in his sophomore year, moving up to the varsity 8.

“I was familiar with the system and the workload,” said Hamp “I understood the course load and was better at time management. I knew what to expect.”

The Princeton top boat was better in 2012, advancing to the grand final in both the Eastern Sprints and IRA regattas.

“I felt we had some good speed and we were confident going into sprints,” said Hamp.

“We made the final and got fourth. At IRA, we were seeded seventh and got sixth. It was good to make the grand final but there was a little bit of frustration. We thought we were faster than the years before and we didn’t do that much better.”

This spring, Princeton redoubled its efforts to become even faster. “I think we made a lot of progress, I give a lot of credit to the coaches for being willing to make changes and really push us,” said Hamp.

“We had a great group of seniors. We have changed the culture, we are not holding back in the training. We are going for it more in the training.”

That training paid dividends as the Tigers placed third at the Eastern Sprints and fourth at the IRAs.

“We were happy to get a medal,” said Hamp, reflecting on getting the bronze at the Sprints.

“It is a great event; it is an emotional day. We were seeded fifth at the IRAs and we got fourth. It was the best finish for the varsity since ’06. I think it was a huge stepping stone for us going into next year.”

The strong finish, combined with Hamp’s experience this summer at the U-23 worlds, has him brimming with confidence as he looks ahead to his senior year with the Tigers.

“As far as racing, we want to continue what we started last year,” said Hamp.

“We have turned the corner, we have a group of guys who want to work hard and win. I think we want to improve from the sprints and IRAs. I want us to improve as a team. We are headed in the right direction.”

HOLDING HER OWN: Kate Kerr holds her ground last fall during her freshman season with the Franklin & Marshall College women’s soccer team. Former Princeton High standout Kerr made 16 appearances with four starts in 2013,  picking up an assist. The midfielder is looking to provide more scoring punch this fall for the Diplomats, who get their 2014 campaign underway when they face Lebanon Valley on August 29.(Photo by David Sinclair, Courtesy of F&M Athletic Communications)

HOLDING HER OWN: Kate Kerr holds her ground last fall during her freshman season with the Franklin & Marshall College women’s soccer team. Former Princeton High standout Kerr made 16 appearances with four starts in 2013, picking up an assist. The midfielder is looking to provide more scoring punch this fall for the Diplomats, who get their 2014 campaign underway when they face Lebanon Valley on August 29. (Photo by David Sinclair, Courtesy of F&M Athletic Communications)

Kate Kerr can’t imagine life without soccer.

Starring for the Princeton High girls’ team and the Match Fit Chelsea club program, Kerr had long range plans in the game.

“I think playing college soccer has always been in the back of my mind from the beginning of high school,” said Kerr, who helped PHS win the 2012 Central Jersey Group III sectional title in her senior season.

“Soccer has been such a huge part of my life, I have never thought about stopping playing.”

After looking at several Division III programs, midfielder Kerr found a home at Franklin & Marshall College and its women’s soccer team.

Upon starting preseason practice in 2013 for her freshman season at F&M, Kerr did have some jitters in making the jump to the next level.

“I was a bit nervous; the biggest thing was being mentally prepared and not psyching yourself out,” said Kerr.

“It is important to relax and tell yourself that you have been playing this game for a long time.”

It was hard for Kerr to relax when she got her first college start in the Diplomats’ game against Elizabethtown College on September 10.

“It was really exciting to see my name on the whiteboard,” recalled Kerr, who made 16 appearances and four starts in her debut campaign. “It meant my hard work had paid off.”

Less than two weeks later, Kerr got her first college point, picking up an assist in a 3-3 tie at Ursinus.

“It was a downpour, the ball was moving fast,” said Kerr. “I was out wide and I got the ball at half field. I took on a girl and beat her. I saw a teammate making a run and I crossed it to her in the box and she scored. It tied the game at 3-3 so it was a big goal.”

Over the course of the fall, Kerr made a lot of progress. “I think I just got more confident,” said Kerr. “At the beginning, I was nervous being a freshman. I got to know my place on the team. I tried new things in practice because I wasn’t worried about being judged.”

Off the field, F&M has proven to be a good place for Kerr. “It is tough, it is a lot of work,” said Kerr. “I did well, I had some tough courses. I am thinking about being a math major with a Spanish minor. I joined a sorority for fun. I have met some great girls.”

With the Diplomats getting ready for their season opener against Lebanon Valley on August 29, Kerr has a great feeling about this year’s squad.

“We just had our first fitness test,” said Kerr. “I think everyone is excited, we have a good group of freshmen coming in. We kicked the ball around after the test and everyone was working hard, there was high energy.”

As Franklin and Marshall looks to improve on the 5-9-3 record it posted in 2013, Kerr believes the team will have to work smarter around the goal.

“We had the best start in years; we only lost one of our first seven games (4-1-2) but towards the end we lost focus,” said Kerr. “We need to be better in the final third this year with our attacking and finishing. The defense is fine.”

For her part, Kerr is determined to be a more productive finisher this fall. “I want to be on the starting line and I want to start scoring goals,” said Kerr, who is hoping that her younger sister, Kirsty, will be scoring goals for PHS as she follows in the family tradition by playing on the Little Tiger varsity squad this year.

“I came close a few times last year. I want to get on the end of balls more, I think that would help the team.”

NAVAL ENGAGEMENT: Brendan Dudeck heads upfield for Navy last fall in the Midshipmen’s 34-7 win over Army. Dudeck, a former Hun School standout, is entering his senior season with Navy as one of the team’s starting receivers. The 6’0, 202-pound Dudeck made five catches for 48 yards last fall and threw for a two-point conversion in the victory over Army. (Photo by Phil Hoffmann, Courtesy of Navy Sports Information)

NAVAL ENGAGEMENT: Brendan Dudeck heads upfield for Navy last fall in the Midshipmen’s 34-7 win over Army. Dudeck, a former Hun School standout, is entering his senior season with Navy as one of the team’s starting receivers. The 6’0, 202-pound Dudeck made five catches for 48 yards last fall and threw for a two-point conversion in the victory over Army.
(Photo by Phil Hoffmann, Courtesy of Navy Sports Information)

Brendan Dudeck’s goal growing up was to be a big-time college athlete, not a soldier.

“In middle school and high school, my dream was to someday play college sports at the D-1 level,” said former Hun School standout Dudeck.

“Football became the sport I could do that over basketball and baseball. I wanted to play against schools like Notre Dame and Penn State.”

But when Army recruited him for football, Dudeck decided to give the armed forces a look.

“We didn’t have anyone in the family who had been in the military,” noted Dudeck.

“I said to my dad (former Hun football coach Dave Dudeck), I didn’t know if the military was for me so I better take a visit there. I knew about the great character of the kids they bring in and I took a liking to the lifestyle.”

Once he realized that the military could be for him, Dudeck decided to check out the Naval Academy as well.

“I thought if I have seen Army, I want to see Navy,” said Dudeck with a laugh. “I went on a visit to Annapolis and fell in love with the place and the guys they bring in. There is a real brotherhood.”

Deciding that the Naval Academy and its football program was the best fit, Dudeck made military service and football his dual focus. The 2010 Hun alum, who did a post-graduate year at the Peddie School, has worked his way up the squad’s depth chart and is serving in the big brother role as he enters his senior season with the Midshipmen.

“I understand how things work and what is important,” said the 6’0, 202-pound Dudeck, who will be one of the team’s starting receivers this fall. “I lead by example. If I can say at the end of the day that I worked as hard as I can, that is the goal. You can’t just talk about it, you have to walk the walk.”

It took Dudeck plenty of hard work to learn the ropes, starting before school even began in his first year.

“We had plebe summer before we get in there which is the indoctrination into the military,” said Dudeck.

“They break you down and build you up; they want to see if you can be a team player. I think it was a tough adjustment.”

Joining the football team after getting through that indoctrination led to other adjustments for Dudeck.

“It was the best and craziest,” said Dudeck, reflecting on his first taste of college football.

“You go through plebe summer and you think you have it figured out. Then you get to the practice and you are not the center of attention, everyone has been captain or an all star. The practices are all on the clock. You have 24 five-minute periods and the horns are blowing. I started off as a quarterback.  The QBs wear green jerseys so I
followed the green jerseys.”

Dudeck, who was switched to receiver in the spring of his first year, took some important lessons from his debut campaign even though he didn’t see any game action.

“You see the level of dedication it takes to play,” said Dudeck. “It is one thing to get recruited but to get on the field, there is the film study, weight lifting, and catching extra balls. People see the game on Saturday but they don’t see you in the winter doing suicide sprints.”

For Dudeck, the transition to receiver proved to be relatively seamless. “I had never played receiver before but I had been a defensive back all of my life so that helped me figure it out,” said Dudeck.

“I had a head start from playing QB; I had a grasp of all the plays and a different view of the offense.”

In his sophomore season, Dudeck got in his first game through special teams play.

“We went to Ireland to play Notre Dame in the first game and then we came back and we played at Penn State,” recalled Dudeck.

“One of the receivers got hurt and I was pulled up to special teams. It hit me, this my dream, this is exactly what I wanted.”

As Dudeck saw more action on special teams that fall, he started to develop a comfort level with the college game.

“The speed and size is a big difference but when it comes down to it, it is still football,” said Dudeck, whose younger brother, David, is a junior receiver for Boston College and youngest brother, Cameron, is headed for Navy and plans to play on the football team.

“You want to score touchdowns and keep the other team from scoring touchdowns.  You need to focus in and play with confidence. When you are on the field, you need to focus on doing your job. It was awesome to get on the field and pick up my confidence. Special teams is one-third of the game. You can make huge plays on special teams that can change a game.”

Moving up in the receiver rotation in 2013, Dudeck started playing a greater role in the Navy offense, making five receptions for 48 yards and getting three rushes for 21 yards.

“I played with three older guys, it was awesome to learn from them,” said Dudeck.

“My first catch was against Western Kentucky. I ran my route, I caught the ball. I was so pumped after that.”

Other highlights last fall for Dudeck came in games against traditional powers Pitt and Notre Dame.

“I made two catches against Pitt, my family was there so that was great,” said Dudeck.

“That Notre Dame game was really cool. I went there with my dad when I was in second grade when he took a Hun recruit and when I made that catch in that
stadium, I couldn’t believe how much I have been blessed.”

The coolest moment of the season for Dudeck took place in a 34-7 win over archrival Army when he utilized his passing skills to throw for a two-point conversion late in the contest.

“We had just scored a TD and I was sprinting to the other side because I was on the kickoff team,” recalled Dudeck.

“All of a sudden everyone is screaming, saying they are going to run your play. We had been practicing it for weeks so that was my college quarterback moment.”

With Navy currently in preseason camp in preparation for its season opener against No. 5 Ohio State on August 30, Dudeck likes the way the team is practicing as it looks to improve on the 9-4 record it posted in 2013.

“Camp has been going well so far, everyone on the team is working hard,” said Dudeck. “We are trying to work out the kinks. We have come a long way but we have a long way to go.”

Dudeck, for his part, has come a long way from his debut season, mastering the nuances of his role in Navy’s run-oriented option attack.

“I truly understand the offense,” said Dudeck. “Unlike other teams, it is not solely about catching the ball. When we are asked to make a play, we have to step up. In the option offense it is more about blocking, you never know what block is
going to spring somebody for a long run.”

Navy is ready to take a run at Ohio State this Saturday, thrilled about the opportunity to play the powerhouse Buckeyes.

“We are focused on August 30; we couldn’t ask for anything more,” asserted Dudeck. “Everybody has been thinking about that since the very first day after the Middle Tennessee game (a 24-7 win in the Armed Forces Bowl last December). We are ready to give it everything we have got.”

Drawing on his experience at Annapolis, Dudeck, who trained with the SEALs this summer and hopes to join that legendary unit after graduation, is ready to give everything as he looks ahead to serving as a soldier.

“It is just overall maturity; I have seen stuff over the last four years,” said Dudeck.

“I realize the amount of sacrifice that people are making on a daily basis. It is a change of perspective for me and my family and realizing how lucky we are to live in this country. It is a blessing.”

August 20, 2014
TWO GOOD: Anthony Gaffney surveys the action in a game last fall for the Princeton University football team. Junior defensive back and return specialist Gaffney, a Pennington School alum and two-time All-Ivy League selection, is looking to build on the superb start to his career this fall as Princeton defends its Ivy League title. The Tigers start preseason practice next week as they prepare for their season opener at San Diego on September 20.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TWO GOOD: Anthony Gaffney surveys the action in a game last fall for the Princeton University football team. Junior defensive back and return specialist Gaffney, a Pennington School alum and two-time All-Ivy League selection, is looking to build on the superb start to his career this fall as Princeton defends its Ivy League title. The Tigers start preseason practice next week as they prepare for their season opener at San Diego on September 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Anthony Gaffney hit the Community Park basketball courts this summer to help prepare for his junior campaign with the Princeton University football team.

Playing for King’s Pizzarama in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League, Gaffney made quite an impression in his debut season, helping King’s to the championship series and earning Newcomer of the Year honors.

Flying all over the court, Gaffney displayed the athleticism and the will to win that has made him an All-League performer in the first two years of his Tiger career.

For Gaffney, playing hoops served as a natural complement to the conditioning and football drills that he underwent as part of the Princeton offseason regimen.

“It is a good way to stay competitive; I play basketball all the time anyway,” said the 6’3, 200-pound Gaffney, a native of Columbus, N.J. in Burlington County and an All-Prep performer and 1,000-point scorer in his high school basketball career at the Pennington School.

“I play pickup, I go to open gym. It is that extra conditioning, making sure I am active.”

Gaffney proved to be competitive from day one for the Tigers, starting against Lehigh in the 2012 season opener and going on to make All-Ivy League honors that fall at defensive back and return specialist. In 2013, Gaffney earned All-League honors at defensive back as Princeton tied Harvard for the league crown.

With the Tigers kicking off preseason practice next week as they prepare for their season opener at San Diego on September 20, Gaffney and his teammates are looking to stand alone atop the Ivies.

“We want to run the table this year so there are no questions,” said Gaffney. “We want to dominate everybody.”

For Gaffney, his run to stardom started at Pennington, where he made an immediate impact.

“There were a group of guys I knew from basketball who went there and that helped,” said Gaffney, who was an all-state football player at Pennington and broke triple jump and 4×400 records in track.

“I was given the opportunity to play early, I started as a freshman in both basketball and football. It is a small school.”

At the suggestion of the Princeton football coaches, Gaffney did a post-graduate (PG) year at the Taft School (Conn.) to solidify his spot in the Tiger program.

“Physically I got more mature, I developed as an athlete,” said Gaffney, reflecting on his year at Taft which saw him win state Class A Player of the Year honors and set a school record with 18 receiving touchdowns.

“There was better competition, every team had post-grads. I had to hone my skills. Academically it was a little more challenging, I took a couple of harder courses. I wanted to build my resume for Princeton. Being away from home is different, you are on your own. You don’t have your mother cooking your meals.”

Hitting the field for Princeton in 2012, Gaffney saw the dividends of his year at Taft.

“Truth be told, physically and athletically, I was good,” said Gaffney. “After the PG year, my body was ready. I wasn’t a 17-year-old, I was 18 turning 19. I could hang with the older guys.”

While Gaffney could keep up physically when he started in his debut against Lehigh that fall, he wasn’t up to speed with the nuances of the college game.

“Mentally, I had to learn a lot,” said Gaffney. “We play a lot of different schemes. Plus I was playing a pretty foreign position. I was recruited as a receiver so my main focus was offense. I played some corner and safety at Pennington and some corner at Taft the last three games when another guy got hurt. The first game was wild. I played both ways, it was a challenge.”

Two weeks later, Gaffney produced a breakthrough performance in a 33-6 win at Columbia, starring in the return game and in the secondary. “That was the first game where I felt I belonged and started to get the hang of things,” said Gaffney.

“I returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and made two interceptions. There was a snowball effect from there.”

With the Tigers improving to 5-5 from back-to-back 1-9 campaigns, Gaffney received the rare accolade of being named first-team All-Ivy at both defensive back and return specialist.

“Making All-Ivy was really good for first season,” said Gaffney, who made three interceptions and 35 tackles that fall and led the league with a 25.9-yard return average on 20 kickoffs.

“I wasn’t expecting that; it showed that the league and coaches recognized that I had a good year. It means a lot.”

In 2013, Princeton had a great year, rebounding from a season-opening 29-28 loss to win eight straight games on the way to going 8-2 overall and 6-1 Ivy.

“We lost that tight game to Lehigh, the Georgetown game (a 50-22 win) was a good game all around,” said Gaffney.

“We did a few things wrong but we won by a big margin. We did the same thing to Columbia. It was not just that we were winning, it was the way we were winning. The offense was really playing well and the defense was coming on; we were playing off of each other.”

In reflecting on the championship season, Gaffney points to a pair of road triumphs, a come-from-behind 39-17 win at Brown and a bruising 38-26 victory at Penn, as critical moments.

“The Brown game was key; we were in a big hole and we were on the road in a night game and it was a little chilly,” said Gaffney, noting that the Tigers were behind 17-0 early in the second quarter against the Bears.

“We said we have got to make plays and make it happen now. We got it together and from there we really played well. It is tough to win at Penn. It is always a physical game, that was another step forward.”

Earning the league title along with Harvard was a huge step for the program. “It may have meant more to the older guys because of what they had been through, starting 2-18 and then going 5-5,” said Gaffney.

“That progression meant a lot to them. It was good to be able to help them do that; it is just the beginning for the younger guys.”

This summer, Gaffney has been working hard to build on the superb beginning to his college career.

“For me, it is technique and doing what I can to be a better cornerback,” said Gaffney, who had 22 tackles and two interceptions last fall and a 21.0 return average.

“I am doing the conditioning workouts with some guys at home. I am going over to Princeton for 7-on-7s. A lot of guys are doing that, we are doing a lot of fine-tuning now.”

Gaffney is hoping to earn recognition this fall as one of the top cornerbacks in the country.

“I want to replicate what I have done and then some,” asserted Gaffney, when asked about his personal goals for the upcoming season.

“I have been All-Ivy, I want to take it to the next level and be an All American and one of the best players in the country.”

STRIKING PRESENCE: Maddie Copeland prepares to strike the ball in action for the Princeton University field hockey team. The former standout at Stuart Country Day and the Peddie School is heading into her junior season with the Tigers and figures to play a bigger role this fall after totaling 10 goals in her first two college campaigns. Princeton starts preseason practice this week as it prepares for its opener at Duke on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STRIKING PRESENCE: Maddie Copeland prepares to strike the ball in action for the Princeton University field hockey team. The former standout at Stuart Country Day and the Peddie School is heading into her junior season with the Tigers and figures to play a bigger role this fall after totaling 10 goals in her first two college campaigns. Princeton starts preseason practice this week as it prepares for its opener at Duke on September 5.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Maddie Copeland relished the challenges she faced as she joined the Princeton University field hockey program in 2012.

“It was definitely nerve-wracking; in the first two days, we ran fitness tests,” said Copeland, a former standout at Stuart Country Day and the Peddie School.

“The level of play was much higher; it was nice to be in an intense atmosphere like that. I jumped right into things, the team was welcoming.”

Thriving in the highly-charged atmosphere, Copeland scored five goals in 17 appearances that fall before breaking her arm when she got hit by a shot from Tiger star Kat Sharkey. Princeton went on to win the NCAA championship that fall with Copeland waving her cast in support.

Fully recovered from her injury, Copeland took a greater role last fall, making 19 appearances and five starts, contributing five goals and an assist to help the Tigers go 14-5 and advance to the NCAA quarterfinals.

As the 5’6 striker looks ahead to her junior campaign, she is feeling a comfort level with the college game.

“I definitely understood the systems that Kristen [Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn] wants us to run,” said Copeland. “It is more of a team sport in
college. You have to use each other more, there is a lot of passing. It is definitely a faster game.”

It didn’t take long for Copeland to show her offensive game in her debut campaign as she scored her first career goal in a 10-2 win over Delaware in the team’s sixth contest in 2012.

“It is always great to score a goal but it is even better to win,” said Copeland, who tallied a career-high two goals in a win over Yale in late September that season.

Although the broken arm sidelined her for the rest of 2012, Copeland relished the memories from Princeton’s national championship campaign.

“It was a bummer to not play in the tournament; it was nerve-wracking on the sidelines,” recalled Copeland, who ended up having two operations on her arm.

“It was an an unreal experience, it was incredible and hard to put into words.”

Last fall, Copeland got the chance to play in the NCAA tournament and she responded with aplomb, tallying a goal and an assist as Princeton overcame an injury to star defender Julia Reinprecht to edge Penn State 5-4 in the opening round and avenge a regular season defeat to the Nittany Lions.

“When Julia got hurt, I played the rest of the game,” recalled Copeland. “We were all like we have to win this game for Julia. It was so exciting; we were so happy with the end result. We wanted to play them again, we knew we had developed a lot since the first game.”

Developing deep bonds with her teammates and coaches has impacted Copeland’s total Princeton experience.

“The team does everything together on and off the field,” said Copeland. “It is like a family and the coaches are like our second mothers. They are intense at the right time. Off the field, they couldn’t be nicer, you can talk to them about anything. They want to know everything that is going on with you.”

Taking courses at the University of Miami this summer has led Copeland to be creative about her training.

“The focus is showing up in shape,” said Copeland. “I brought my stick so I am doing things on my own.”

With Princeton starting preseason practice later this week as it prepares for its opener at Duke on September 5, Copeland knows the Tigers will be bringing their customary fervor.

“The season is going to be difficult because we lost a lot of good players,” said Copeland.

“Everyone has to step up, we are really intense and really motivated. We will have trouble scoring as much as in the past.”

MAJOR PROGRESS: Star goalie Tyler Fiorito guards the net during his stellar career with the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team. This summer, Fiorito, a  2012 Princeton alum, took over as the starting goalie for the Chesapeake Bayhawks of Major League Lacrosse (MLL) after an injury to Kip Turner. Fiorito ended up making eight appearances and six starts with a goals against average of 12.35 in more than 398 minutes of action. He was named the MLL Defensive Player of the Week after recording 15 saves in a 12-11 win over the New York Lizards on July 27. In his first two seasons with the Bayhawks, Fiorito had made just one appearance for 15 minutes.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAJOR PROGRESS: Star goalie Tyler Fiorito guards the net during his stellar career with the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team. This summer, Fiorito, a 2012 Princeton alum, took over as the starting goalie for the Chesapeake Bayhawks of Major League Lacrosse (MLL) after an injury to Kip Turner. Fiorito ended up making eight appearances and six starts with a goals against average of 12.35 in more than 398 minutes of action. He was named the MLL Defensive Player of the Week after recording 15 saves in a 12-11 win over the New York Lizards on July 27. In his first two seasons with the Bayhawks, Fiorito had made just one appearance for 15 minutes. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Tyler Fiorito started the season opener in his freshman year with the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team in 2009 and seemingly never left the field over the next four years.

The star goalie made 59 starts and played 3,396 minutes for the Tigers, recording 624 saves, the second-highest total in program history, and compiling a sparkling goals against average of 7.47.

Fiorito earned All-American and All-Ivy League honors all four years of his career and was the Ivy Player of the Year in 2012 as a senior.

After graduation, Fiorito joined the Chesapeake Bayhawks of Major League Lacrosse and found himself in an unusual position — mired in the bench. In the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Fiorito made no starts and had one appearance for a grand total of 15 minutes of playing time.

Reflecting on his first two seasons in the MLL, Fiorito knew that he had to pay his dues.

“It is a very different game; you come in and you are playing with guys that are 10-12 years older and are veterans in the league,” said the 6’2, 200-pound Fiorito, a native of Phoenix, Md.

“I just wanted to get to know my teammates and the league. I got to practice five weeks in 2012, they suited me up for championship weekend so I would get a taste of things. Last year, I suited up for half the games so there was progress for me. You can only suit up 19 players — 2 goalies and 17 field players so having the ability to suit up is a privilege.”

This summer, due to an injury to starting goalie Kip Turner, Fiorito got the privilege to start and emerged as a standout. He was named the MLL Defensive Player of the Week in late July after making 15 saves in a 12-11 win over the New York Lizards.

For Fiorito, the award was validation of his toil over the last two summers.

“I was doing this full out the last two years and it was great to earn the respect,” said Fiorito, who ended up making eight appearances and six starts this summer with a goals against average of 12.35.

“Guys doubt your abilities and whether you can be more than a backup. I proved to myself that I can play in this league. It was great to have others recognize that I have the ability to play in this league.”

For Fiorito, who works on the investment equity sales desk for UBS in New York City, keeping his lacrosse skills sharp has been a challenge.

“It is difficult to take shots during the week, there are not too many fields in the city and it is hard to find guys that can come out after 6 p.m. and shoot on you,” said Fiorito, noting that he typically misses one Bayhawks practice a week as the team trains on Wednesdays and Fridays.

“You love the game so you make it work. You stay late on Friday and take shots. You hop in when the team is doing shooting drill, it is good for them to have a live goalie.”

Goalies, in general, don’t have it easy in the MLL. “This is a difficult league for goalies, the shooters are all good,” said Fiorito.

“It is the progression from high school to college to the pros. In high school, there were a bunch of good players but usually one or two shooters that you had to worry about. In college, there would be four or five that you had to worry about. In this league, every guy can shoot and is dangerous. In college, you had a week to prepare for a game. You had film study and two days of walking through. You had a game plan; you knew the other team’s plays and recognized them. In this league, you have film but you don’t have as rigid a game plan. It is a lot of 1-versus-1 matchups and relying on general defensive principles.”

Fiorito got his first taste of action this year when starting goalie Kip Turner was injured during an April 27 contest at Boston. Fiorito came in and made seven saves in a 15-9 loss.

“Kip got hurt in the game and I came in the first half, which was tough,” recalled Fiorito.

“I didn’t have the mentality of starting and going through the process of warming up. I didn’t do a good job.”

Fiorito did a better job two months later when Turner suffered a season-ending thumb injury in a June 21 game at Denver.

“In Denver, the second time he got hurt, he told me at halftime that he couldn’t go,” said Fiorito.

“Confidence is a big part of this. I was ready to go and I got a good warmup at halftime. We were down 6-1 at halftime, I didn’t have a lot to lose. The best I could do was to give my team a spark with some big saves. I did well. We ended up losing 9-7 but it was an exciting confidence builder for me. I made some good saves.”

As Fiorito saw more action this summer, he developed a comfort level guiding the Bayhawk defense.

“I can be more of a leader on the field,” said Fiorito. “Before, I was the new guy not playing and it is hard to assert yourself. Now I have shown I can be a starter.”

In the business world, Fiorito had gotten off to a good start at UBS. “The job comes first, you don’t make money playing in the MLL,” said Fiorito, who has spent much of his spare time this year preparing for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam, necessitating studying in hotels when the Bayhawks were on the road and catching 10:40 p.m. trains out of Baltimore after home games to get back to New York to study on Sundays.

“I am two years into my job with UBS and I am 24. This has been a big year in terms of having more responsibility. I am starting to pick up my own accounts, which is a big deal. Perception is reality at this job. I need to continue to put in the time at work. It is a balancing act if I want to continue to do what I love.”

In the wake of his breakthrough campaign, Fiorito plans to continue his MLL career.

“I am confident in my abilities and my place in the league,” said Fiorito.

“I love the game; it was hard not playing for two or three years. I had to decide whether taking all of this time, being away 18 weekends out of New York. It makes it all worth it, seeing the team win the championship the last two years and then getting to play this year. It is reaping the benefits of the hard work and sacrifice.”

FAMILY TIES: Sarah Brennan looks for the ball in action last fall in her senior season with the Princeton Day School field hockey team. This week, Brennan will be beginning her career with the Princeton University field hockey program as the Tigers start preseason practice. Brennan is following in a family tradition by going to Princeton as her parents are both PU alums. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FAMILY TIES: Sarah Brennan looks for the ball in action last fall in her senior season with the Princeton Day School field hockey team. This week, Brennan will be beginning her career with the Princeton University field hockey program as the Tigers start preseason practice. Brennan is following in a family tradition by going to Princeton as her parents are both PU alums.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Some of Sarah Brennan’s earliest memories revolve around time spent on the Princeton University campus.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I have been going there,” said Brennan, whose father, Sean, and mother, Susan, are both Princeton alums.

“I went to my first reunion when I was under one. I have been to 18 reunions. I have all kinds of crazy orange and black outfits.”

This week, Brennan will be donning a new orange and black outfit as she starts preseason training for her freshman season on the Princeton University field hockey team.

For Brennan, an All-Prep midfielder for Princeton Day School, the road to college field hockey started with some advice from Tiger head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn.

“It was really in sophomore year when I went to a Princeton camp and decided that I wanted to keep playing,” said Brennan.

“Kristen recommended that I join the Mystx club program. I tried out and I made it. We train year round. They have an indoor facility with a really fast surface that is like an astroturf hockey field.”

That training paid off last fall for Brennan, who was the second leading scorer for PDS and helped the Panthers advance to the state Prep B semifinals where they fell 2-1 to Morristown-Beard.

“I was personally happy with the season but didn’t like ending it with a loss,” said Brennan. “I am faster with the stick, I know I still have a lot more to do.”

Brennan’s improved stick skills helped her earn a spot in Princeton’s recruiting class.

“Princeton was always my first choice, the question was whether I had the ability to play there and whether they wanted me,” said Brennan.

“I committed in the beginning of August. For the first time, I cried because I was so excited.”

That excitement was shared by Brennan’s family. “My parents couldn’t have been happier,” said Brennan. “It is pretty special to be going to the same school as your parents.”

Princeton head coach Holmes-Winn is happy to welcome Brennan to the program.

“Sarah is grit,” said Holmes-Winn in recent comments on the Princeton sports website regarding the team’s incoming freshmen.

“Her character is evident with how she backs up will with work. As a high school student, Sarah juggled multiple jobs, demanding academic obligations, and a rigorous club and school athletic schedule. Sarah is a determined player whose strength is in her physiology and competitive drive. She will not be out-worked — her relentless nature will fit in well here. We know Sarah will give Princeton her very best on and off the field and we are honored to welcome her to the Tiger family.”

In preparing to join her new family, Brennan has put in plenty of work. “I kept my club affiliation with Mystx and did some club tournaments in the spring,” said Brennan.

“I also trained with Kristen’s club team, it was great to get out there with them. I have been working by myself and with Mary Travers (former PDS teammate who will be playing for Tufts University field hockey this fall). I have been going to camps. I went to Princeton camp and all the other freshmen recruits were there. All four of them stayed at my house. I am really looking forward to playing with them in a few weeks.”

Brennan is looking forward to hitting the field with the Tigers later this week and contributing to the powerhouse program, which took the 2012 NCAA championship and has won 19 Ivy League titles in the last 20 years.

“We report on August 22 and I am literally counting the minutes to camp,” said Brennan. “I can’t wait to start. I am ready to play wherever Kristen wants me to. I want to be a part of the team and help it win a national title.”

TURNAROUND PROJECT: Todd Smith is excited to take the helm of the Hun School football program. Smith brings a proven track record of success to his new post, having guided WW/P-S to a 63-22 record from 2005 to 2012 as the program’s head coach and then helping Hopewell Valley to the Central Jersey Group III title last fall as its offensive coordinator. The Raiders, who start preseason practice this week, are looking to rebound from a 1-6 campaign last fall under interim head coach John Law.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TURNAROUND PROJECT: Todd Smith is excited to take the helm of the Hun School football program. Smith brings a proven track record of success to his new post, having guided WW/P-S to a 63-22 record from 2005 to 2012 as the program’s head coach and then helping Hopewell Valley to the Central Jersey Group III title last fall as its offensive coordinator. The Raiders, who start preseason practice this week, are looking to rebound from a 1-6 campaign last fall under interim head coach John Law. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After a superb eight-season run as the head coach for the WW/P-S football team, Todd Smith narrowed his focus last fall, serving as the offensive coordinator for Hopewell Valley.

Building on his success at WW/P-S, which saw him guide the Pirates to a 63-22 record from 2005 to 2012, Smith’s high-powered offense helped HoVal to the Central Jersey Group III title.

But while Smith enjoyed his stint with the Bulldogs, he missed being in charge.

“I was happy at HoVal and we had a lot of success but deep down inside I knew I wanted to be a head coach again,” said Smith.

So when Smith learned that the Hun School was looking for a new football coach, he jumped at the opportunity.

“I heard through the grapevine that the position was open and I applied,” said Smith.

“The interview process was rigorous. The headmaster, Jon Brougham, was fantastic, he was very warm and kind. We established a rapport.”

The feeling was apparently mutual and Smith, 36, got the job, taking over for interim head coach John Law, who guided the Raiders to a 1-6 record in 2013.

This week, Smith hits the field looking to get the Raiders back on the winning track as the team starts preseason practice.

“I am excited, I can’t wait,” said Smith. “The public schools get the shot to start a week before and they had time all summer to work on 7-on-7s. I miss that stuff; I am ready to get going.”

Smith was excited by what he saw around Hun as he got to know the school. “I had never been to Hun, it was great to experience it,” said Smith.

“It had a different vibe from public school. The kids are really upbeat. It is a smaller setting; you could see a rapport between the teachers and the kids. Everyone said hello, even if they didn’t know you. Everybody seems really supportive of each other.”

Despite his busy schedule which also includes teaching fifth-grade in West Windsor and coaching track at WW/P-S, Smith was able to spend a lot of time at Hun this spring to get acquainted with his new players.

“I was over there after track,” said Smith, a 2001 graduate of The College of New Jersey. “I got to work out with them and meet the guys living on campus. We had a couple of meetings. My message to them was that we were going to build the team on hard work and dedication and that we were going to make the most out of the summer time and the offseason to showcase their abilities in the fall.”

To that end, Smith held a week-long mini camp earlier this summer. “I wanted the kids to come in and learn the terminology and the base stuff,” said Smith.

“It went well. The kids had fun and developed a rapport with each other. We had some 7-on-7s against other teams and I thought we held our own.”

As he looks ahead to preseason, Smith is looking to fine-tune things physically and mentally.

“We will be doing 2-a-days,” said Smith, noting former HoVal assistant Nick Steffner will be his offensive coordinator and that Law will return to coach both lines.

“We don’t have a lot of numbers so we have to be careful. We will work on fitness and tempo. We will do our fair share of hitting but health is the No. 1 priority. We will be doing a lot of film work, chalk talk, and walkthroughs.”

Smith, who is known for his voluminous playbook and developing high-powered offensive attacks, believes he can implement his full system over the next few weeks.

“We should be able to run the whole offense,” maintained Smith, noting the senior running back Christopher Sharp has already established himself as a star.

“You need a lot of pieces for everything in the playbook to come out and we have a good running quarterback, wide receivers, and offensive line. Sharp is a good starting point, he just committed to Virginia.”

While Smith faces a challenge in getting things back on the right track after last fall’s frustrating campaign, he doesn’t believe that things are desperate by any means.

“The first thing I did was watch the film from every game last year,” said Smith, who guided WW/P-S to three 10-win seasons and seven state playoff appearances in his eight seasons there.

“The record was not reflective of how well they played, they lost a couple of a games by a few points and they were hurt by turnovers. We will focus on the little things so they won’t turn into big things.”

With Hun kicking off its 2014 campaign by playing at Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) on September 20, Smith is looking forward to a big fall.

“It comes down to how fast they learn everything,” said Smith. “Our goal is to play mistake free football, have fun, and win the MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League).”

August 13, 2014
UNION LEADER: Liz Keady looks for the puck during her stellar career with the Princeton University women’s hockey team.  Keady, a 2008 Princeton alum who scored 79 points in her Tiger career, was recently hired as an assistant coach for the Union College women’s program.(Photo courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

UNION LEADER: Liz Keady looks for the puck during her stellar career with the Princeton University women’s hockey team. Keady, a 2008 Princeton alum who scored 79 points in her Tiger career, was recently hired as an assistant coach for the Union College women’s program. (Photo courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

During her playing days with the Princeton University women’s hockey team, Liz Keady gave her heart and soul to the program.

Statistically, the Braintree, Mass. native showed her passion for the game by tallying 79 points on 38 goals and 41 assists in 118 games in her career that ran from 2003-8 with one year away (2005-06) to compete with the U.S. national team.

Keady’s production helped her earn second-team All-Ivy League and honorable mention all-ECAC honors. She was a co-recipient of the team’s Elizabeth English Trophy as Most Valuable Player and the team’s Most Improved Player Award for the 2004-05 season. Keady won the 2008 Sarah Devens Award, a joint award between the ECACH and Hockey East for a player who demonstrates leadership and commitment both on and off the ice.

But beyond the points and accolades, the most graphic demonstration of Keady’s devotion to hockey and the Tigers came when she kept playing in an ECACH playoff game against Yale in 2005 after skating hard into an open door in the bench area and suffering what turned out to be a cracked rib, ruptured spleen, and collapsed lung.

After college, Keady stayed in the game, taking part in the Pre-Olympic residency Program from 2008-10 in Minnesota. When her playing career ended, Keady became the general manager and director of hockey training at the Institute of Performance and Fitness (IPF) in Andover, Mass.

Soon, Keady was back on the ice, coaching at the North Shore Vipers club and then taking the helm of the Andover High girls’ hockey program.

Now, Keady has returned to the world of college hockey, having been recently hired as an assistant coach for the Union College women’s program.

For Keady, taking the job at Union gave her the vehicle to best express her devotion to the game.

“Jeff and Amy (Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal and Brown head coach and former Tiger assistant Amy Bourbeau) brought it to my attention, they knew I wanted to make the jump,” said Keady.

“I wanted to work with more elite, more dedicated players. I loved the kids I worked with but I wanted to work with players who are 100 percent dedicated to the sport.”

Keady is looking to make an impact beyond helping Union do well. “It is something I have always wanted to do,” said Keady. “I have had a lot of great coaches but not a lot of great female coaches and I think that is something the sport needs.”

In working her way up the coaching ladder, Keady sees her time at IPF as a valuable starting point.

“I worked and ran a structured fitness program, working with athletes everyday,” said Keady.

“I loved that, there were a lot of group sessions so that helped with the transition to coaching.”

Taking the post with the Vipers gave Keady the chance to deal with a variety of situations on the ice. “It is one of the up and coming club programs,” said Keady.

“I did skills for all of the groups. I coached the U-19 and U-12 teams. The U-19 group was half season that started once the high school season was over. The U-12 team was a bunch of crazy 11-year-olds. It was completely different, even within team, it is different. I had to communicate six different ways.”

Moving on to Andover forced Keady to develop a wider coaching perspective. “I had a range of players; I had to work on different things with different kids,” said Keady, who also coached lacrosse at the school.

“It depends on how committed they are, some dream of playing D-1 hockey and others see hockey as a hobby. The high school girls are a unique breed. In terms of coaching, it was the first time I had to look at the whole season and think about short term and long term. You might sacrifice a win early in the beginning of the season to be better at the end.”

While the competitive Keady wanted to get wins, she was also looking to instill some deeper principles in her players.

“I would like to think, regardless of talent, we will outwork anyone and be tougher than anyone,” said Keady.

“It is a good goal for the team and it is a good goal for life, to never stop trying and try to get a little better every day.”

That mindset reflects qualities that Keady displayed during her Princeton career, according to head coach Kampersal.

“Lizzie has a tremendous work ethic, she is good at developing players and she will inspire them,” said Kampersal.

“I told the coaches at Union that she is someone who will work hard and is loyal. She gives her heart and soul to everything she does, as a player she was the same way.”

In Kampersal’s view, Keady is a natural at coaching. “She has so much passion for the sport,” asserted Kampersal. “She was always a kid who would give back. She ran a couple of summer programs for us as part of the Princeton camps. She worked as a counselor and related well to the kids.”

Keady, for her part, is ready to give her all for the Union program. “I will help with pretty much anything they need,” said Keady.

“I will do extra skills work and conditioning. I worked six years with IPF so I would like to think I know something about conditioning; I will work with the strength coach. I think the biggest challenge has been recruiting. I found so far that I really like it. I like being able to offer a player this kind of opportunity. It also helps that I believe in the school and the program.”

DRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE: Greg Jarmas displays his driving form during his superb career with the Princeton University men’s golf program. Jarmas, who took first at the 2103 Ivy League Championship during his junior year, turned pro after graduating from Princeton in June and made the cut in his first four events.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

DRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE: Greg Jarmas displays his driving form during his superb career with the Princeton University men’s golf program. Jarmas, who took first at the 2103 Ivy League Championship during his junior year, turned pro after graduating from Princeton in June and made the cut in his first four events. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Greg Jarmas produced one of the more decorated careers in the history of the Princeton University men’s golf program by the time he graduated this past June.

In 2013, the native of Wynnewood, Pa. took first at the Ivy League Championship, becoming the first player in the program to do so since 2005. This past year, he led or co-led Princeton in six of seven events on the way to making GCAA PiING All-Northeast Region for a second straight year. He was a second-team All-Ivy pick and made Academic All-Ivy and was named a Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar for the second time.

But while Jarmas is proud of those honors, that isn’t what drives him. “It’s really awesome to get those awards but that is not why I play,” said Jarmas. “I play to get better and see how good I can be.”

Although Jarmas tied for ninth at the 2014 Ivy tourney to fall short of defending his crown, he was proud of his senior campaign.

“I look at it from the standpoint that I saw myself getting better every year,” said Jarmas, noting that he fired a 69 in the final round of the Ivy championships at storied Baltusrol Golf Club to make a late charge up the leader board.

“I would have liked to have done better at the Ivy championships this year but I made strides in my game and I got closer to my teammates and coach Will Green. My ball striking has gotten better the last two years, I have been working with Brian Quinn, the coach at Temple, and he has really helped me. Mentally I have gotten a lot stronger.”

This summer, Jarmas is putting his game to a stern test, having entered the professional ranks.

He made his pro debut at the Southern Open from July 9-11 on the eGolf Professional Tour, making the cut in a field of 116 players as he fired a 70 and 66 over the first two rounds. Jarmas placed 48th in the event at The Club at Irish Creek outside Charlotte, N.C., carding an even-par 284 over four rounds to earn $1,020.

“I was so excited when I got to the tee in that first pro tournament,” recalled Jarmas.

“I had been thinking about that first shot since last round of Ivies and much longer than that. I turned pro to play against the best, that is the only way to find out how good I can get. I was nervous all day. I hit a really good first shot. It was a confidence builder. I didn’t know what to expect. In my mind, I could play with these guys but until you tee it up, you don’t really know. It was amazing to get paid.”

The successful debut left Jarmas encouraged about his prospects. “My goal was to make the cut,” said Jarmas. “What I found is that I could really compete with these guys. I have a lot of room to get better. I got a very good piece of advice from the Dartmouth coach, Rich Parker. He said first you have to learn how to make the cut, then you have to learn how to contend, and then you have to learn how to win.”

In his second pro appearance, Jarmas made the cut at the Cabarrus Classic at the Cabarrus Country Club in Concord, N.C., finishing the three-round event in T-37 with a one-under score of 215 and a purse of $1,075.

“I was more comfortable the second week; I knew I didn’t have to play my best golf to make the cut,” said Jarmas, who recently placed T23 at the Greater Bangor Open and was T32 at the Maine Open before missing the cut at the New Hampshire Open.

“I didn’t play as well as the first week but I still made the cut and actually got more money. My comfort level and confidence have gone up.”

Jarmas is planning to move to Florida and live there from November through April to hone his game and maximize his chances to catch on with a pro tour.

“I am right out of college and I am playing with guys that have been out two, three, or four years,” noted Jarmas.

“I have a lot of time to learn and get better. I want to see how good I can get. I am going to go to as many Q (qualifying) schools as I can, Web.com (the second-level of professional men’s golf in the U.S.), European PGA tour, Canada PGA, and Asia PGA tours. Hopefully, I will play well enough in one of them to qualify and have a spot.”

Acknowledging the ups and downs of pro golf, Jarmas knows that overnight success is unlikely.

“You learn to take things one day at a time, one week at a time; it is tough to plan long term,” said Jarmas, whose ultimate goal is to win a PGA tournament.

“If I am on the Web.com within three years, I will feel like it has been a good three years.”

With his good start this summer, Jarmas is showing he could be in the pro game for the long haul.

TOUGH TO STOP: Zach Halliday races past a foe in a 2012 state tournament game during his senior season with the Princeton High boys’ soccer team. Last fall, central midfielder Halliday walked on to the Tufts University men’s soccer team and broke into the starting lineup by the end of the fall. This season, he will be joined by younger brother, Kevin, a high-scoring forward for PHS, as the pair look to help Tufts be a force in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) play.(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

TOUGH TO STOP: Zach Halliday races past a foe in a 2012 state tournament game during his senior season with the Princeton High boys’ soccer team. Last fall, central midfielder Halliday walked on to the Tufts University men’s soccer team and broke into the starting lineup by the end of the fall. This season, he will be joined by younger brother, Kevin, a high-scoring forward for PHS, as the pair look to help Tufts be a force in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) play. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

For Zach Halliday, competing in soccer beyond high school has been on his radar for a while.

“I was thinking about college soccer, starting in the sixth or seventh grade,” said former Princeton High star Halliday.

“I played for PSA (Princeton Soccer Association) and I moved up to PDA (Players Development Academy). It was more intense and competitive, things really started heating up for me at PDA.”

The heat was on Halliday last August as he looked to earn a spot on the Tufts University men’s soccer team.

“I did have to walk on, that was a little stressful,” said Halliday. “When I got into Tufts, I sent the coach (Josh Shapiro) a note telling him I got in and he invited me to preseason. There were 28-29 guys and only 25-26 spots.”

Once on the field with the Jumbos, Halliday showed his trademark hustle and intensity.

“We came in and had the fitness test, only three of the eight freshman passed and I was one who passed,” said Halliday.

“It helped my confidence; it was also the first time we saw coach. I play center mid and we have a lot of players who are technically skilled at that position. I brought a different level of work rate and a willingness to do the dirty work and make the tackles that others may not want to.”

Halliday’s work paid off as he made the squad and achieved his long-held goal.

“It took a big weight off my shoulders, it is something I have wanted to do for a long time,” said the 6’0, 160-pound Halliday. “I was able to play looser, I wasn’t stressed as much, and I tried things I wouldn’t do before.”

Halliday didn’t have to wait long to make his college debut as he saw action off the bench in a 3-0 season-opening win at Bates.

“That was really fun, we were up 2-0 and there was five or 10 minutes left and coach gave me a chance,” recalled Halliday, who ended up playing in seven games and making four starts as Tufts went 8-5-2 and advanced to the NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) quarterfinals. “I got a good run and I got my foot on the ball. It was a good feeling to know that I could play at this level and I knew then that it is going to be a fun four years.”

Halliday got his first college point with an assist in a 7-0 win over Suffolk in the second game of the season and then made his first college start in a 1-0 loss to MIT on October 16.

“We had lost to Connecticut College the game before and the coach chewed us out,” said Halliday, reflecting on his first start.

“We had a players-only meeting and aired some things. We needed players willing to break plays and play with an edge. Coach told me I was starting. It was great. I was super nervous but after the first few minutes, I started feeling good. I knew I wasn’t in over my head.”

In assessing his debut campaign, Halliday said the most important lesson he took from the fall was that success comes when the players are all on the same page.

“You need to buy in together, there has to be a sense of camaraderie and not just individuals playing for accolades,” said Halliday, noting that the Tufts squad includes former Princeton Day School stars Max Hoppenot and Rui Pinheiro along with Princeton resident Peter Lee-Kramer. “You have to buy into the system your team is abiding by.”

This fall, the Tufts squad will get a boost to its camaraderie when Halliday’s younger brother, Kevin, a high-scoring forward for PHS, joins the squad.

“It is exciting to play with Kevin; we are training together and it’s fun to know we are working for the same goal and same fitness test,” said Halliday.

“I can’t wait to play with him. We started on U-8 when he played and my dad was the coach. He has been a big part of my soccer life.”

PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe credits Halliday with being a big part of his program’s success over the last four years.

“We had been tracking him since the sixth grade over at Cranbury and we knew what a quality player he was,” said Sutcliffe, noting that Halliday helped PHS win two state titles during his career.

“He showed up in the summer before his freshman year when we have games with alumni against current players and he stood out immediately. He had this vitality and ability to inspire even as a freshman and that got better and better over the four years.”

Sutcliffe is not surprised that Halliday made an impact in his debut campaign.

“He’ll take nothing for granted,” said Sutcliffe. “His ability to work hard on both sides of the ball separates him from other players. I am so proud of him, he’s a special player. We were fortunate to have him for four years.”

In Sutcliffe’s view, Tufts is very fortunate to be getting the 1-2 punch from the reuniting of the Halliday brothers.

“I think it is going to be great,” said Sutcliffe. “Kevin was on the short list of their top guys. The staff is lucky to have both of them.”

Halliday, for his part, believes Tufts has what it takes to be one of the top teams in the NESCAC this fall.

“I am looking to build on the end of last season when I was starting,” asserted Halliday, who will be heading to preseason camp in mid-August with the team slated to open its 2014 season by hosting UMass-Boston on September 3.

“I want to help us win any way I can, whether as a starter or as a role player. We have a lot of talented players; I think we can make waves in the NESCAC and NCAA tournament. It is a good group; coach Shapiro is a great coach.”

SOMETHING BRUIN: Maddie Alden, right with sunglasses on her head, huddles with her boatmates and coach for the UCLA rowing varsity 4 during the NCAA championship regatta this June at the Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind. Princeton High alum Alden helped guide the Bruins varsity 4 to a 15th place finish at the event. This summer, she is coaching at the Mercer Rowing Club as she prepares for her senior season at UCLA.

SOMETHING BRUIN: Maddie Alden, right with sunglasses on her head, huddles with her boatmates and coach for the UCLA rowing varsity 4 during the NCAA championship regatta this June at the Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind. Princeton High alum Alden helped guide the Bruins varsity 4 to a 15th place finish at the event. This summer, she is coaching at the Mercer Rowing Club as she prepares for her senior season at UCLA.

Maddie Alden has no trouble voicing what’s on her mind, something I can attest to as her father.

That trait combined with her petite stature led to suggestions before entering Princeton High that she would be ideally suited to be a crew coxswain.

“One of my best friends in middle school had an older sister who did crew and their family thought I would be perfect for the role of the coxswain because I was so tiny and really loud,” said Alden.

Alden took up the suggestion and joined the Mercer Junior Rowing Club (MJRC) and quickly fell in love with coxing. She worked her way up the ranks, guiding the women’s lightweight 4 to the nationals twice before coxing the women’s varsity 8 to the nationals as a senior.

Inspired by other MJRC athletes who went on to  compete at the next level, Alden, a 2011 PHS grad, ended up going to UCLA, where she was recruited by the Pacific 12 school’s rowing program.

But once out in Westwood, Alden had trouble finding her voice. “It was hard; you come from a program where you are the varsity coxswain, you are top dog,” said Alden, listed at 5’0 on the UCLA roster.

“People look up to you, because you are going to school for this, that is really impressive and then you start at the bottom again. It was really hard to go into a new program where the coaches have a completely different coaching style, you have to learn what they want and that is one of the hardest things. Coxswains are supposed to be coaches in the boat so if you are doing a drill, they expect you to do it properly and they expect you to do it right the first time, not the second time. They want practice to run smoothly and your job is to enforce the smoothness of the practice. It was hard because I didn’t know what these coaches wanted.”

Figuring out what the coaches wanted, Alden coxed the novice 4 to a win at the Pacific Coast Rowing Championships in her freshman year. As a sophomore, she guided the second varsity 4 to a third place finish on day one at the San Diego Crew Classic and to a big win over USC.

This spring, she moved up to the varsity 4 and helped the boat make it to the NCAA championships where it placed 15th in the country.

“Sophomore year I kind of got my grounding; I think the biggest thing about the varsity 4 coming from the second varsity 4 was that I met with my coach (associate head coach Justin Price) twice a week and sometimes three times,” said Alden, a sociology major and education minor who has earned honorable mention Pac 12 All-Academic honors.

“I would just talk out practice and how practice was going. I would talk out future races with him. I would just really get in his head, picking his brain for what he wanted and what he saw was going on. I became more of a liaison for him, a messenger between him and the rowers. I am a connection between how they are feeling and how he is feeling to see where his head is at and to prepare the rowers for what he is thinking.”

For Alden, earning the trip to the NCAAs at Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind. was a heady accomplishment.

“I had seen my team go two years in a row and I was stuck at home watching the races,” said Alden.

“As much as I was proud of them, I wanted to be in one of those boats. It was awesome to know you have done well, you are now on the team that is chosen to go.”

Alden and her boatmates put in extra effort to do well in Indianapolis. “It was intense, we had changed our lineup so you go in with an untested lineup,” said Alden.

“I had never been to a bigger race than the NCAAs. There is no bigger race besides international competition. This is it for most rowers. You go into it knowing that it is the big deal and what you have trained for. This is what I worked for seven years so finally getting to be there, I was dialed in. I remember the two weeks before all I could think about was how to make the boat go faster.”

While the varsity 4 had hoped to make the B final and have a shot at finishing 7th-to-12th in the country, Alden was happy with the boat’s effort.

“We had some tough breaks, I just remember just wanting to be the best we could be,” said Alden.

“We weren’t the fastest. I wasn’t looking to go win the grand final, I was looking to be the fastest and perform at our best. The repechage (second-chance race) was a big race for us, I wish we had gotten second to make it into that B final but it didn’t work out in our favor and that is fine. In the C final, we had a great performance. I just remember being so proud of just being there.”

For Alden, just being at the NCAA won’t be enough as she and her fellow rising seniors look ahead to their final campaign

“I am already ready to go back and get faster; I have been there, I have seen what it is like,” said Alden of the Bruins, who placed 12th overall in the team standings at the NCAAs.

“It made me want to be more successful. I think the biggest thing I took away from NCAAs is seeing the future and how strong of a senior class we have this year with 10 seniors. Knowing how strong and how close knit our senior class is and how committed we all are to being the best, the NCAAs really just amped me up. Right after I finished my last race, I thought I just want to go back and do it all again. I know what we can do, I know what we were missing this year. I know that I want to improve and just keep getting faster.”

This summer, Alden is refining her voice on the water, helping to coach the Mercer Rowing Club women’s rowers.

“Normally with a coxswain,
in an 8 especially, you see the boat and the oars in front of you, you don’t see the side view so being on the launch gives you a different perspective,” said Alden, who also guides the club’s summer learn-to-row program and proudly notes that the Mercer women won two races at the Independence Day Regatta in Philadelphia and had five first-place finishes last week at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta in St. Catherines.

“You have to tell them what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. It makes me have to be sharp with my knowledge and how I can help them. It also gives me the ability to really hone in on using my vocab and making sure the girls understand what I am saying and getting my point across. So the communication of seeing a problem, addressing it and fixing it has exponentially gotten better.”

ASSUMING THE RISK: Corinne Urisko controls the ball in action last fall during her freshman season with the Babson College field hockey team. Former Princeton Day School standout Urisko emerged as a starting defender for the Beavers. (Photo Courtesy of Babson College Sports Information)

ASSUMING THE RISK: Corinne Urisko controls the ball in action last fall during her freshman season with the Babson College field hockey team. Former Princeton Day School standout Urisko emerged as a starting defender for the Beavers.
(Photo Courtesy of Babson College Sports Information)

When Corinne Urisko headed to preseason camp last summer for her freshman season with the Babson College field hockey team, she was a bit apprehensive.

“I was nervous, I didn’t know exactly what to expect,” said Urisko, a former Princeton Day School standout. “The team was predominantly juniors and seniors so I was a little scared.”

But with the veterans rolling out the welcome mat for Urisko, she overcame those fears and emerged as a starting defender for Babson.

“They were all so welcoming, I realized that I fit in with them,” said Urisko. “I was lucky enough to start every game and play almost every minute of the season. I started at right back and moved to center. The seniors had a big impact on me. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

While Urisko had jitters in her college debut against Endicott, she found she enjoyed the challenge of playing at the next level.

“I was nervous for the first few minutes then I really got into it,” said Urisko, crediting PDS head coach Tracey Arndt with helping prepare her well for the jump to college field hockey.

“The speed of the game is completely different, it is much more upbeat. In high school, you see all ranges of skill. In college all of the players are skilled, it is a fun game.”

One of the most fun moments for Urisko last fall came when Babson played Connecticut College and former PDS teammate Carly Ozarowski.

“It was so nice to see her again,” said Urisko, recalling the game. “It was a little weird to play against her after we had worked together so much in high school.”

The Beavers did well last fall, posting an 11-9 record, winning three of four games before ending the season by falling 3-2 to Wellesley in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) semifinals.

“Beating Springfield, we were so happy for that win,” Urisko, referring to a 5-4 victory over the Pride in the NEWMAC quarters. “Losing to Wellesley in semis was a highlight because we played so well. It was a close game.”

For Urisko, keeping a close eye on her studies was particularly critical since she was spending so much time on field hockey.

“I learned that you have to balance schoolwork with playing,” said Urisko, who is studying business and notes that Babson was ranked first on Money magazine’s recently-released list of best colleges.

“There are so many things going on at campus. We are traveling a lot so you have to have your assignments prepared and keep up with the professors.”

Socially, Urisko was able to keep up with things on campus. “I made so many friends,” said Urisko, who joined a sorority. “The athletes are a close unit, most of my closest friends are on the fall sports teams.”

This spring, the field hockey team got a sense of what kind of unit it is going to be this fall.

“We have a big spring training program; we do track workouts and skill sessions,” added Urisko.

“We have a spring tournament in April. It was good practice for us to not be playing with the seniors. It gives us a preview of what things are going to be like without them.”

Over the summer, Urisko has focused on conditioning and honing her skills.

“I have been doing a big workout packet and playing some pick-up field hockey,” said Urisko.

“We have a team camp at our college called 4Goals with different coaches. We start preseason training on August 15.”

With a season under her belt, Urisko is looking to take a bigger role on the field this fall for the Beavers.

“I want to be a good influence on the underclassmen,” asserted Urisko. “I am the only returning defender so I want to emerge as a leader. It is going to be hard without the seniors, but we have a lot of talent and potential.”

August 6, 2014
CIAO TIME: T.J. Bray looks for an opening last winter during his senior season with the Princeton University men’s basketball team. After playing well for the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Summer League last month, Bray has signed to play for Pallacanestro Trapani in Italy’s second-level pro league.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CIAO TIME: T.J. Bray looks for an opening last winter during his senior season with the Princeton University men’s basketball team. After playing well for the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Summer League last month, Bray has signed to play for Pallacanestro Trapani in Italy’s second-level pro league. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When T.J. Bray started his career with the Princeton University men’s basketball team in 2010, he didn’t see the Ivy League as his last stop in the game.

“Coming into college, I knew that the better players got to play pro,” said Bray. “It was always in the back of my mind.”

After averaging 1.5 points a game as a freshman and 7.2 as a sophomore, Bray’s ambitions seemed far-fetched.

But after scoring 9.9 points a game as a junior with 102 assists and 51 steals to earn second-team All-Ivy league honors, the 6’5, 207-pound native of New Berlin, Wisc. stamped himself as one of the better players in the Ivies last winter. Leading the Tigers in scoring (18.0 points per game) steal (34), assists (133) and field goal percentage, (.537) Bray was a unanimous first-team All-Ivy choice.

“Things worked out well as the seasons progressed,” said Bray. “I had a good senior year and this season, I settled into not going to look for a job but playing basketball as long as I could.”

By the end of his superb senior campaign, it became clear that Bray’s pro dream could become a reality.

“Agents were talking to me saying the same thing, you are having a great year and we can get you into NBA workouts,” said Bray.

After completing the season and turning in his thesis, Bray put himself through some grueling workouts to get ready for his shot at the next level.

“I was going to the gym working with coach [Brian] Earl and coach [Marcus] Jenkins, shoring up my game, playing four-five times a week,” said Bray, who ended up with 1,024 points in his Tiger career. “I did full-court 2-on-2 with the coaches to stay in shape.”

Playing the Toronto Raptors for the NBA Summer League last month in Las Vegas, Bray turned heads.

“I thought I was pretty solid,” said Bray. “I have plenty of room for improvement but I adjusted to the NBA game pretty well. I talked to the Raptor coaches and they said thanks for coming and playing and they told me I was going to be a successful pro.”

Now, Bray is going to get his shot to be a pro, signing last week with Pallacanestro Trapani in Italy’s second-level league, called Serie A2 Gold.

“Trapani seemed to have the best situation, so we negotiated for a week and I signed last Friday,” said Bray, noting that his agent has a colleague from Italy with extensive knowledge of the leagues there.

“It was one of the better organizations in the league in Europe, it is about getting paid and paid on time. They have a good coaching staff, the head coach has coached in Milan and Rome so he has been at a higher level. He likes to develop younger players. The location is great, it is a seaside town.”

Bray’s experience with the Raptors organization should serve him well as he had a number of practice sessions with the team before taking part in the summer league.

“We got to Vegas on Monday and had 2-a-days on Tuesday and Wednesday and a single practice on Thursday,” said Bray.

“The Raptors coaches were high on my Princeton background; they were looking for me to make smart plays. The transition from the Raptors to Princeton went smoothly; they played a similar system.”

Bray enjoyed a smooth debut in summer action, going 3-of-3 from the field, all from beyond the arc, and hitting 3-of-4 from the foul line for 12 points in an 88-78 win on July 11 over the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I told myself to stay calm and make the right play,” said Bray. “I got some shots and I got to the free throw line, I can make that 15-foot shot. It was almost surreal how well things went.

In his five summer games with the Raptors, Bray averaged 4.4 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 18.2 minutes played.

“I played off ball,” said Bray, reflecting on his role with the team. “We had four point guards and a couple of shooting guards and one got hurt. It was anything to get on the court.”

After seeing time on the court at the pro level, Bray said the biggest difference from college is the length of the players.

“Everyone is taller and their arms are longer, the gaps that you see in college are closed,” said Bray. “The speed of the game is not that different.”

In order to get up to speed for his stint in Italy, Bray will be focusing on fundamentals.

“My ballhandling has to get shored up,” said Bray. “I will be working on that a lot in the gym as well as floaters, mid-range jumpers, and the in-between game. At Princeton, it is 3s and lay-ups.”

At Trapani, Bray will be called on to display his versatile game. “I will do whatever they need,” said Bray.

“I am penciled in as the 2 guard, to be a playmaker and score a little, like my role with Princeton last season. I am also the backup point guard. Chris Evans from Kent State is the 3. We are the two pieces that they brought in.”

With Bray leaving for Italy on August 18, he is looking forward to an adventure on and off the court.

“I want to soak up as much as possible from the experience and learn on the court,” said Bray, noting that the team takes care of his apartment and car and that he will be getting Rosetta Stone to learn some Italian.

“I want to get to a higher level. Everything has gone perfectly the last few months; I am very excited to go over there.”

WINNING FEELING: Members of the Winberie’s squad celebrate last Wednesday night at the Community Park courts after they defeated King’s Pizzarama 61-60 to clinch the title in Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League best-of-three championship series. Pictured, from left, are Chris Hatchell, Cliff Pollard, Kurt Simmons, Jesse Krasna, Terrence Bailey, and Lou Kirkley. It was the second summer hoops crown for Winberie’s in the last three years.

WINNING FEELING: Members of the Winberie’s squad celebrate last Wednesday night at the Community Park courts after they defeated King’s Pizzarama 61-60 to clinch the title in Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League best-of-three championship series. Pictured, from left, are Chris Hatchell, Cliff Pollard, Kurt Simmons, Jesse Krasna, Terrence Bailey, and Lou Kirkley. It was the second summer hoops crown for Winberie’s in the last three years.

With its core of veterans utilizing their playoff savvy, Winberie’s pulled out a 60-57 nailbiter over King’s Pizzarama in the opener of the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League best-of-three championship series.

But in the early stages of the second game on Wednesday evening at the Community Park courts, top-seeded Winberie’s showed its age as second-seeded King’s raced out to a 22-10 lead.

Sensing that the game could be getting out of hand, Winberie’s guard Terrence Bailey implored his teammates to hang in there.

“I talked to them and said we have to pull it together and play our game and not play theirs,” said Bailey.

Displaying his multi-faceted game, Bailey’s dazzling drives to the hoop combined with some deadeye outside shooting sparked a 23-6 run that gave Winberie’s a 33-28 lead at halftime.

“In the beginning I knew,” said former Lawrence High standout Bailey reflecting on his first half heroics which saw him pour in 16 points. “When I hit the three 3s, I am ready to ball. It was game time for me.”

While the game turned dicey as King’s made some big runs, Winberie’s hung on to prevail 61-60 and win its second summer league title in the last three years.

Led by a pair of Princeton University football players, Jakobi Johnson (19 points) and Anthony Gaffney (11 points), along with Lou Conde (15 points), King’s narrowed the gap to 39-37 early in the second half and then made the last minute harrowing for Winberie’s, whittling a 61-56 deficit to a one-point margin before succumbing.

“We let up on pressure and the intensity dropped a little bit,” said Bailey, who ended up with a game-high 20 points. “We had to pull back together and play our game and we brought it back.”

Noting that he may be playing for another team next summer, Bailey was proud to come through in his Winberie’s finale.

“It was great to go out like this to get a title and bring it home for them,” said Bailey of Winberie’s which went 11-1 this summer with the one defeat coming on a forfeit when it didn’t have enough players on hand for a game against Princeton Youth Sports. “This is a great group of guys and I am happy that we accomplished it.”

Winberie’s player-coach Kurt Simmons noted that the title was the product of a group effort as Cliff Pollard scored 14 points in the clincher while Jesse Krasna added 10 and playoff MVP Chris Hatchell contributed 9.

“We have got a lot of veteran guys here,” asserted Simmons, who scored 8 points in the finale and was a force in the paint.

“You look at everybody on the team. Jess [Krasna] was a great pickup. Chris Hatchell speaks for himself the way he plays. A lot of credit needs to go to Cliff Pollard and TB (Bailey), those are two athletic and great guys. The one guy who doesn’t get as much credit as he should is Lou Kirkley. He is a guy that comes into the game, he doesn’t play that much but he does his job and he is a great asset to have on the team.”

Bailey, for his part, cited the team’s togetherness as its greatest asset.

“Chemistry is the best thing you need to have for a team,” said Bailey.

“If you don’t have chemistry then you aren’t a team, you just have individual players that come out and want play the game. When everybody has the mindset of they all want to win and play as a team and play together like a family, then you can do anything. We won every game we played, definitely chemistry is No. 1.”

INSIDE KNOWLEDGE: Winberie’s player-coach Kurt Simmons, right, thwarts Matt Johnson of King’s Pizzarama in action last week during the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League best-of-three championship series. Simmons’ inside play helped Winberie’s sweep the series 2-0 to win the title.                                                                                             (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

INSIDE KNOWLEDGE: Winberie’s player-coach Kurt Simmons, right, thwarts Matt Johnson of King’s Pizzarama in action last week during the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League best-of-three championship series. Simmons’ inside play helped Winberie’s sweep the series 2-0 to win the title. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While Kurt Simmons helped to start the Winberie’s team in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League several years ago, he assumed a bigger leadership role this season.

With co-founder Mark Rosenthal deciding to step aside as the team’s manager to help out with league administration, Simmons became a player-coach for Winberie’s.

In reflecting on his increased responsibility, Simmons acknowledged that it initially took some adjusting.

“It was tough in the beginning,” said Simmons. “We had a lot of good guys but bringing these guys together was rough. Mark and I started this team with another guy, Dave Uitti. It was a struggle in the beginning but Mark really put in the foundation for this team and I just took over that role for him.”

Building on that foundation, Simmons guided Winberie’s to the league title last week as it swept King’s Pizzarama in the best-of-three championship series, culminating with a 61-60 win last Wednesday evening at the Community Park courts.

“We have been battle-tested throughout the season,” said Simmons, noting that the team posted a 7-1 regular season record with the one loss being a forfeit.

“Coming into tight games like this, we are ready for them. If you look at our record over the last five years, we have only lost four or five or six games. We are a pretty impressive team.”

In the finale on Wednesday, former LaSalle player Simmons produced an impressive performance in the paint, blocking several shots and chipping in 8 points.

“The legs felt good tonight,” said the 6’6 Simmons with a laugh. “I just wanted to come out and be aggressive. I didn’t want to go back to a third game on Friday. We just wanted to close this out tonight and get this championship.”

For Simmons, the squad’s solidarity, forged through past playoff battles — including a run to the 2012 league crown, was a key factor in the win.

“Having those veteran guys and that camaraderie,” said Simmons, when asked what qualities make Winberie’s special.

“A lot of us have been playing together for the last five or six years. A lot of us play together throughout the year in different leagues so coming out here and playing is just another day in the park basically.”

Holding things together as a coach made the title extra special for Simmons.

“It means a lot, this is my first year as a player-coach, technically if you take away that forfeit, I haven’t lost a game as a coach,” said Simmons.

“It is great to be able and come out and win a championship in a league that is as good as this. It means a lot, especially to be able to say we have won two in the last three years.”

TITLE TRACK: Hun School girls’ soccer player Ashley Maziarz tracks a ball in a 2012 game. Last month, Maziarz helped her club team, FC Bucks, win the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) championship in Richmond, Va. as she gets ready for her senior year at Hun.                                                                   (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TITLE TRACK: Hun School girls’ soccer player Ashley Maziarz tracks a ball in a 2012 game. Last month, Maziarz helped her club team, FC Bucks, win the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) championship in Richmond, Va. as she gets ready for her senior year at Hun. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Five years ago, Ashley Maziarz decided to commute to Pennsylvania for her club soccer.

The Chesterfield, N.J. resident joined the FC Bucks program and quickly realized that she had made a wise move.

“We were pretty good from the start,” said Maziarz, a central defender whose skills have helped her star at the high school level for the Hun School girls’ soccer team.

“We kept building and we got two new coaches last year and they have really helped.”

This summer, that foundation resulted in a national title as FC Bucks won the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) championship in Richmond, Va. last month, defeating Internationals Soccer Club (Ohio) 2-1 in the final.

For Maziarz, the championship sparked a sense of redemption. “We knew it was going to be tough competition,” said Maziarz, who was joined on the FC Bucks squad by Hun teammate and fellow rising senior Jess Sacco.

“We had made it to another national tournament two years ago but we didn’t do too well. We wanted to do better.”

FC Bucks qualified for the ECNL nationals by winning their group in playoffs held in Seattle. The team pulled a draw in its finale to earn one of the eight spots in Richmond, where the format involved two groups of four teams with the winners of each group meeting in the title game.

Coming into the competition, Maziarz had a good feeling about the team’s prospects.

“I think we were playing better; we knew we were going to be playing really good teams in Virginia,” said the Lehigh-bound Maziarz.

“We enjoy moving the ball around and keeping possession. We are not a kick and run team. We like to work it around.”

Starting the nationals with a 2-1 win over the Utah Avalanche gave Maziarz and her teammates the feeling that they could go on a title run.

“I think we had a lot of energy; we were nervous but when we got on the field and started the game we did what we had to do to win,” said Maziarz.

“Our two forwards work well together and they were really clicking. We gained confidence from that win. We realized that we had a shot to win this.”

After topping the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Illinois SLSG-Metro team 2-0 and the East Meadow (N.Y.) Soccer Club 3-2, FC Buck won Group B to set up a clash with the Group A winner, Internationals SC, in the ECNL national title game.

The title contest proved to be a nailbiter with some late drama. “It was back and forth the entire game, near the end they got a penalty kick and our goalie saved it, that was big,” said Maziarz.

“We had about 10 minutes left after the saved PK. We were really, really determined to win. We let go of the fatigue and didn’t think about the heat. They had the trophy on the sidelines and we were looking at it. We wanted to get it.”

Earning that trophy triggered a raucous celebration. “We ran into a pile and we were screaming, it was exciting and awesome,” said Maziarz. “Now we have to live up to that standard. Next year, everyone is going to be looking at us as national champs and trying even harder to beat us.”

This fall, Maziarz and Sacco, who has also committed to Lehigh, are looking for an exciting final season at Hun as the Raiders look to build on an inspiring 2013 campaign that saw them rebound from a 0-7 start to make the state Prep A championship game.

“Jess and I talked about it, we want to win title this year,” asserted Maziarz, who is a team co-captain along with Sacco.

“We are on the same page as to what we want for the season. We saw how this team did at the end of last year and its potential and we want to work as hard as we can.”

Maziarz is primed to continue working hard at the next level. “When I went to Lehigh, I fell in love with the campus,” said Maziarz, who plans to study biomedical engineering.

“I enjoyed the coaches; they made me feel happy when I went there. I met a lot of the girls and they were welcoming, they made me feel comfortable.”

Having Sacco matriculate along with her adds an additional layer of comfort. “We are going to be rooming together; we are close and know each other’s quirks,” said Maziarz. “I am happy to have made the decision.”

BUCKLING DOWN: Hun School girls’ soccer star Jess Sacco, right, battles a Pennington player for the ball last fall in the state Prep A title game. Last month, rising senior and Lehigh-bound Sacco helped her FC Bucks U17 squad win the Elite Clubs National League championship in Richmond, Va.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BUCKLING DOWN: Hun School girls’ soccer star Jess Sacco, right, battles a Pennington player for the ball last fall in the state Prep A title game. Last month, rising senior and Lehigh-bound Sacco helped her FC Bucks U17 squad win the Elite Clubs National League championship in Richmond, Va. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last fall, Jess Sacco started her junior season with the Hun School girls’ soccer team on the sidelines as she recovered from a Lisfranc foot injury.

The central midfielder returned to action late in the campaign and helped Hun advance to the Prep A championship game where it fell to perennial power Pennington.

This summer, though, Sacco gained a title as she helped the FC Bucks U17 team win the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) championship in Richmond, Va. as it edged Internationals Soccer Club (Ohio) 2-1 in the final.

“At the beginning of the season, our coaches said this might be our last shot for a national title with this group because so many are going off to college,” said Sacco, who has committed to Lehigh University where she will be competing for the school’s women’s soccer team.

“I wouldn’t want to win with any other group, we have been seeing each other five times a week with practices and games.”

In order to make it to Richmond, the team had to raise its game in the playoffs in Seattle.

“We had to do well in the regular season to qualify for the tournament in Seattle,” said Sacco, who was joined on the FC Bucks squad by Hun teammate and fellow rising senior Ashley Maziarz.

“There were eight groups of four teams and the top team from each group made it to the nationals in Richmond.”

Coming into its final contest in Seattle, FC Bucks had to win or tie to earn one of the coveted eight spots.

“It was tough; we were shorthanded because two girls had to fly back due to prior flight arrangements,” said Sacco. “We were all tired, we played well and pulled out the tie.”

Sacco had the feeling that the team was going to keep playing well in Richmond.

“I could tell that everyone was nervous but we were also fired up,” said Sacco. “I had never seen the team so excited. Seattle gave us momentum. We had been undefeated in our last eight or nine games. I think we all wanted to win.”

FC Bucks kept up its winning ways in pool play, topping the Utah Avalanche 2-1, the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Illinois SLSG-Metro team 2-0, and the East Meadow (N.Y.) Soccer Club 3-2 to win Group B and earn a matchup with the Group A winner, Internationals SC, in the ECNL national title game.

Sacco and her teammates were fired up for the contest, having lost to Internationals in the teams’ last two meetings.

“We really wanted to take it to them,” said Sacco. “Our defense played well. Our goalie made an insane save on a penalty kick with 10 minutes left. Our central defender fouled one of their girls in the box and I was thinking the ref isn’t going to call this with a national title on the line. I was crushed but then our goalie saved it. I had never felt that kind of emotion; that made us fly the last 10 minutes of the game.”

In Sacco’s view, the emotional connection between the FC Bucks’ players helped the club prevail.

“It is the bond,” said Sacco. “Honestly, the teams at this level can be pretty cutthroat. We are really close. We support each other and push each other.”

Looking ahead to her final season with Hun, Sacco and close friend Maziarz are hoping to push the Raiders to a championship campaign.

“For Ashley and me, one of the biggest things is to motivate everyone to go out and play hard every game,” said Sacco, who will be serving as a co-captain of the squad along with Maziarz.

“The summer is important, we have been having captain’s practices. I think the biggest thing is working hard and working together. Even if we don’t have the most talent, I think we have the heart. Last year, the freshmen and sophomores had to play and they stepped up. We told them they could do it and they got better and better.”

Sacco is excited about going to Lehigh to play at the next level. “They have a great engineering program and I am thinking about chemical engineering,” said Sacco, who will continue her partnership with Maziarz as she is also heading to Lehigh and will play for the soccer team.

“You know how they say you will be walking at a school and you can see yourself going there, that is how I felt when I was on campus. I did a camp after I had decided and I thought I can see myself playing on this field. It is great to have it over with; we still have to work hard at everything this year.”

July 30, 2014
BEND IN THE ROAD: Chris Bendtsen heads to victory at the 2012 Ivy League Heptagonal cross country championship meet during his junior season at Princeton.  This spring, Bendtsen ended his Tiger career on a high note as he took ninth in the 10,000 at the 2014 NCAA championships, earning second-team All-American honors in the process. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BEND IN THE ROAD: Chris Bendtsen heads to victory at the 2012 Ivy League Heptagonal cross country championship meet during his junior season at Princeton. This spring, Bendtsen ended his Tiger career on a high note as he took ninth in the 10,000 at the 2014 NCAA championships, earning second-team All-American honors in the process. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While Princeton University men’s track star Chris Bendtsen was thrilled to make the 10,000 meter run at the 2013 NCAA championships as a junior, he was bitterly disappointed by how the race unfolded.

“I was in awe, being in Eugene and running at Hayward Field,” recalled Bendtsen.

“I got a cramp in the first mile. I finished 22nd of 25 runners. I think the best thing that came from that was that it motivated me for the next year. All I was thinking about was getting back to Eugene. I made it but that wasn’t enough.”

In making that effort, Bendtsen didn’t have to look far for inspiration. “My teammate Michael Franklin got fifth,” said Bendtsen. “I had a picture of him finishing at the meet that I put on my locker for more motivation. I thought if he could do it, I could do it.”

Last month, Bendtsen proved he could compete with the best, taking ninth in the 10,000 at the 2014 NCAAs, earning second-team All-American honors in the process.

“The top 8 made first-team All-American so I was very close,” said Bendtsen, a native of Wolcott, Conn.

“I can’t help but feel good; the guys that beat me were very good and the guys I beat were good. To be able to finish 9th, I was very satisfied. It was a great way to end my Princeton career.”

Bendtsen’s running career began at an early age. “Both of my parents were runners in college, on mother’s side of family, all six kids were runners,” said Bendtsen. “I did road races in kindergarten. There was a 4th of July 5k in town that I ran; I would just jump into road races.”

Jumping up the Connecticut running ladder at Wolcott High, Bendtsen was determined to compete at the college level.

“It was really a natural progression; I was pretty good starting out as a freshman and I just kept getting better,” said Bendtsen.

“I didn’t know how good I would be or what school I would end up in. I narrowed it down to all the Ivy League schools. I figured why not get the best education and run for a good program in a very good league. Also I wanted to stay in the northeast.”

Bendtsen ended up deciding that Princeton was the best fit for him. “Princeton had everything I wanted; it had great academics and the teams were very good,” said Bendtsen.

“There was a lot of talent on the team and a lot of good runners coming in with my class. I felt like I fit in with the other runners.”

In his first college season, Bendtsen lagged behind the other runners. “It was definitely a little tough that freshman fall in cross
country,” said Bendtsen.

“I was getting used to training as a collegiate runner. There were a lot more miles and you are running the miles faster. I found myself tired all the time. The time management was tough.”

Learning the ropes from such stars as Donn Cabral, Brian Leung, and Joe Stilin, Bendtsen got up to speed athletically and academically.

“The guys on the team helped me develop as a collegiate runner and a student-athlete,” said Bendtsen. “Once I was able to manage everything, things started to come together. These guys not only helped me develop as a better runner, they helped me become a better leader and a better teammate.”

As a sophomore, Bendtsen started developing into a key member of the Tiger distance running corps.

“Having a year under my belt helped me get better,” said Bendtsen, noting that he broke 14 minutes in the 5k that season.

“I was running in a lot of races. One of the things that helped was my consistency; I was never hurt so I was bound to improve.”

Improving by leaps and bounds as a junior, Bendtsen became a cross country star, placing first in the Ivy League Heptagonal cross country championship meet and competing in the NCAA championships.

“Junior year was definitely a breakout year for me in cross country, everything was clicking,” said Bendtsen, who served as a cross country team co-captain as a junior and senior.

“I wanted to win Heps; everything came together. We always shoot for Heps because that is a very big meet for us but I was ready for the bigger meets after that. I got 43rd at nationals, everything was going right. It was one of those days where as I was doing it, it didn’t seem like it was hard.”

In the spring, Bendtsen kept going well, taking second in the 10,000 and third in the 5,000 at the Outdoor Heps to help Princeton win the team title. He placed fifth in the 10,000 at the NCAA East Regional before ending the season with the disappointing effort at the NCAA championships.

Smarting from that finale, Bendtsen was primed for a big senior year.

“I went out to Boulder, Colorado to train at altitude,” said Bendtsen. “I shared a house with some other guys on the team, it was great.

His final college campaign, though, didn’t get off to a great start. “In the fall, I felt like I did everything right but I was not putting it together in cross country,” said Bendtsen, who slipped to seventh in the Heps.

“Maybe I did too many miles. I had a foot injury that sidelined me for five days before regional so that was a little setback. I didn’t put it together, something wasn’t right. It may have been an iron deficiency.”

After placing fourth in the 5,000 and 13th in the 3,000 in the Indoor Heps, Bendtsen hit his stride in the spring.

“I had a better outdoor season,” said Bendtsen. “I was 4th in the 10,000 at the Heps, I was very disappointed with that race. I had to show up the next day and score points for the team. I had a good race and I won the 5,000. I was disappointed that our team didn’t win. It was really close.”

Bendtsen raced well in the 10,000 at the NCAA East Regionals, taking third in a time of 29:51.08 to book his return trip to Eugene.

“I wasn’t nervous going into the regionals, the way that [Jason] Vigiliano and [Fred] Samara coach us, I knew I was going to Eugene,” said Bendtsen.

“I went into the race saying I was going to do it. I needed to be in the top 12 and I got third. I wanted to win the regional but the top guys got out a little too far.”

In the NCAA championship race, Bendtsen got out slowly but picked up the pace.

“I want out in the back, I was one of the last guys in the first couple of miles,” said Bendtsen, who clocked a time of 29:14.86.

“I kept feeling better gradually, it got to the point where I was leading a pack of runners and was alone. I was trying to catch up with the top group.”

Bendtsen feels great about his Princeton experience, on and off the track.  “As a runner, I learned what worked for me, running a lot of miles and staying as consistent as I could with time management and training,” said Bendtsen.

“I was able to focus on a long term plan and goal; I had my mind on NCAAs for a year. I don’t think I could have done that in high school. As a person, being around a great group of guys was special. They were my closest friends for four years and those friendships will last for a lifetime. I feel like Princeton is really special; no one lives off campus; we all live together. We help each other with school, training and other things.”

After graduation, Bendtsen competed one more time in orange and black, making his debut in in the USA Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif. where he finished 14th in the 10,000 with a time of 30:05.18.

“I was very tired; my muscles started tightening up,” recalled Bendtsen, who experienced travel issues in getting west as his initial flight was cancelled and he arrived on the day of the competition after spending the night in the airport.

“I didn’t race that well. I was running against professional runners. I was proud to run in Princeton singlet for one last race and represent Princeton at the biggest stage. I tried hard but it wasn’t a good race.”

Working for eMarketer, a market analysis company in New York City, Bendtsen plans to continue his running career and hopes to make it back to the USA championship meet next spring.

“I am going to keep running,” said Bendtsen.  “I am joining the New York Athletic Club. I am in process of getting the paperwork. I will run road races. I will keep trying with 10k. Similar with NCAAs, I was excited about going to the USA championships. It was an incredible experience but I want to get back next year and do better.”

Drawing on his Princeton experience, Bendtsen figures to keep getting better and better.

 

FUN RUN: Princeton University women’s distance running star Megan Curham enjoys the moment after taking fourth in the Ivy League Heptagonal cross country championships last fall as a freshman. In the spring, Curham set a program record in the 10,000 meters and ended up making the NCAA championships in the event, where she finished 11th and earned All-American honors. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FUN RUN: Princeton University women’s distance running star Megan Curham enjoys the moment after taking fourth in the Ivy League Heptagonal cross country championships last fall as a freshman. In the spring, Curham set a program record in the 10,000 meters and ended up making the NCAA championships in the event, where she finished 11th and earned All-American honors. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When it comes to running, Meghan Curham has come a long way in a short time.

Curham, a native of Warren, N.J, only joined the track team during the spring of her sophomore year at Villa Walsh in 2010.

By her senior year, Curham won the state Prep B cross country title.

She came across the state to Princeton University last fall and established herself as the top runner on the women’s cross country team, placing fourth in the Ivy League Heptagonal championship meet.

This spring, she set a program record in the 10,000 meters and ended up making the NCAA championships in the event, where she finished 11th and earned All-American honors.

While Curham got into track as a break from swimming, she quickly realized that she had found her passion.

“I was in competitive swimming since I was four; I had a lot of friends doing spring track as a away to get into shape for summer,” said Curham.

“I definitely liked it right away; it made me feel better than swimming. You got to socialize when you were doing it and you can’t do that in swimming. I like going out for a run, better than going into the pool.”

Deciding that she wanted to run in college, Curham decided to make up for lost time in the winter of her junior year.

“The recruitment process was beginning and I wanted to be in the pool,” said Curham.

“I got on my treadmill in the basement and I ran as hard as I could. I wasn’t even thinking about mileage. With the treadmill, you know how fast you are going and how far you are going.”

For Curham, her victory in the Prep B cross country championship meet represented a major breakthrough.

“The most exciting thing about that was the time, I wanted to break 19 because I couldn’t break 20 as a junior,” recalled Curham.

“I broke 19 pretty quickly that fall and that was the first race where I broke 18. I know it wasn’t a public school meet but there were definitely a few people in the prep schools that had talent.”

Once Curham was on the radar of college programs, she didn’t have to think twice when Princeton started recruiting her.

“Princeton has always been my dream school,” said Curham. “I have been going to swim meets there since I was young. We would walk around campus and town and I loved it. I wanted to go there my whole life.”

Upon arriving at Princeton, Curham had to go a lot harder than she was used to in terms of her training.

“I think definitely the workouts were different,” said Curham, noting that she increased her mileage to 60 miles a week from the 50 she was doing in high school.

“Workouts in general were more tougher; they were a shock. I asked the other girls and they said I would get used to them. We were doing long hard runs. We were doing 7 milers rather than 4-milers like in high school. The workouts were tailored to the actual event; they were a lot more focused.”

Continuing her rapid rise in the running world, Curham proved to be a quick study, winning in her college debut as she placed first at the Delaware Cross Country Invitational last September.

“It was crazy; I went out with my teammates,” said Curham, who clocked a time of 21:39.39 over the 6k course.

“There was one big hill on the course. I don’t like hills so I try to run as fast as I can to get it over with. I assumed my teammates would go with me. I got to the top of the hill and I was alone I was so nervous beforehand; it was so exciting.”

Curham went on to take fourth in the Ivy League Heptagonal cross country championships and qualify for the NCAA championship meet, where she finished 34th to earn All America honors.

Competing indoors for the first time in her career, Curham kept up her run of success, taking second in both the 3,000 and 5,000 at the Indoor Heps.

“In the 5000 we went out really slowly and then we were completely sprinting the last mile,” said Curham.

“The last 200 was better than what I do in workouts; it gave me confidence in my speed. It was great coming in second in the 3,000 a day later.”

Coming into the spring season, Curham was ready to take a step up distance-wise.

“Peter [Princeton women’s track head coach Peter Farrell] asked me if I wanted to do the 10,000,” said Curham. “He usually doesn’t let freshmen do it because it is a long race and it can break you down.”

Not backing down from the challenge, Curham made history, setting a  program record of 33:24.79 in taking second in the 10,000 at the Outdoor Heps. Her time was 7.26 faster than the previous record set by Emily Kroshus ’04 a decade ago when she clocked a 33:32.45.

“My first real 10,000 was the Heps, that was really exciting,” said Curham, who also placed third in the 5,000 at the meet.

“I still can’t describe it in words. I had looked at records and I didn’t really think I could do that this year. I feel like I am a purely endurance runner. With the 10,000, the race is so long you can make up for mistakes. I go into it more relaxed.”

Building on that effort, Curham placed fourth in 10,000 at the NCAA East Regional to book a spot in the national championship meet.

“In the east regional, we ran about the same time but it was a very even race,” said Curham, who cruised to a time of 33:25.12. “It was really exciting to qualify. I thought I would be in the back. When I saw where I was late in the race, that felt really good.”

While Curham did really well in the NCAA championships, she had hoped to race even better.

“I wanted to get a personal record and I didn’t do that,” said Curham. “You don’t know how a 10k is going to go and whether it is going to be a tactical race. It was a good learning experience. I know what I did to not run a PR.”

This summer, Curham is applying some of the lessons she learned in her debut campaign.

“Over the season, I kept my strength,” said Curham. “I want to keep up my base but have room to get better in the fall. I don’t want to peak in the summer. We are not supposed to race, we are just supposed to do strides to help with speed. I was lifting real weights multiple times a week this year which I hope will keep me from getting injured.”

In looking ahead, Curham believes she has the strength to go much further down the road.

“I would really like to try racing a marathon someday,” said Curham. “I did the Disney half marathon as my Christmas present one year.”

 

SNEAKING BY: Jesse Krasna of Winberie’s heads up the court in recent action in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Last Monday, Krasna got off to a late start in the league’s best-of-three championship series as he forgot his sneakers and had to head home to retrieve them. Hitting the court in the second half, guard Krasna scored 5 points and got a big steal in the waning seconds as top-seeded Winberie’s edged King’s Pizzarama 60-57. Game 2 of the series is scheduled for July 30 at the Community Park courts with Game 3, if necessary, slated for August 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SNEAKING BY: Jesse Krasna of Winberie’s heads up the court in recent action in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Last Monday, Krasna got off to a late start in the league’s best-of-three championship series as he forgot his sneakers and had to head home to retrieve them. Hitting the court in the second half, guard Krasna scored 5 points and got a big steal in the waning seconds as top-seeded Winberie’s edged King’s Pizzarama 60-57. Game 2 of the series is scheduled for July 30 at the Community Park courts with Game 3, if necessary, slated for August 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Jesse Krasna’s mom unwittingly gave Winberie’s a big assist in its win over King’s Pizzarama last Monday in the opener of the best-of-three championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League.

Upon arriving at the Community Park courts, Winberie’s point guard Krasna realized that he had forgotten his sneakers and he reached out to his mom.

“I came right from work and I thought I had packed my show the night before but I got here and opened up the trunk and they weren’t there,” said Krasna.

“I still live at home, about a half hour away in the Bucks County area. My mom is a doll, she met me halfway with the shoes. I have got to go home and give her a big hug and a kiss. I would have felt really bad if I wasn’t here and we weren’t able to pull this one out.”

Upon getting into the fray with 14:25 left in the second half, Krasna played a key role in helping top-seeded Winberie’s pull out a 60-57 win, scoring 5 points and getting a big steal in the waning seconds to hold off a furious rally by second-seeded King’s.

“I shot around a little bit and got loose,” said Krasna. “I was able to come in and I had my legs right away.”

After Krasna made a three-point play to give Winberie’s a 53-44 lead, King’s  came on strong, going on a 13-3 run to forge ahead 57-56 with 30 seconds left in regulation.

“I think King’s Pizzarama just played really hard and scrappy,” said Krasna. “They made a lot of plays. To their credit, they took us out of our rhythm. They are a young team that really wants it.”

After Winberie’s regained the lead at 58-57 on two free throws by Chris Hatchell, Krasna made a steal with five seconds left to take the wind out of King’s sails.

“That was a big steal, the ball came right to me,” said a smiling Krasna. “I really didn’t do much, it was a lucky bounce. That was big because it was a one-point game. Paul [Johnson] got to the foul line and knocked down some big free throws for us.”

Hatchell led Winberie’s with 17 points with Cliff Pollard and Paul Johnson chipping in 10 points apiece. Matt Johnson tallied 14 points for King’s with Princeton University football players Anthony Gaffney and Jakobi Johnson contributing 12 and 10 points, respectively. Game 2 of the series is scheduled for July 30 at the Community Park courts with Game 3, if necessary, slated for August 1.

In Krasna’s view, the fact that veteran Winberie’s is battle-tested in summer league playoff battles, having won the crown in 2012, gave it an edge down the stretch.

“We know where to go; we have the experience,” said the 6’0, 164-pound Krasna, who recently wrapped up an outstanding career for Ursinus College men’s hoops program, scoring more than 1,000 points and earning second-team All-Centennial Conference honors this winter in his senior campaign.

“Chris Hatchell is a great leader for us. I think everybody on our team really trusts him so when things start to go haywire, he is there to calm us down and get us a good shot and get us a stop.”

Having previously played for the now-defunct PA Blue Devils in the summer league, Krasna is relishing the experience of getting to play for Winberie’s as he joined the squad this summer.

“Kurt Simmons of Winberie’s e-mailed me right away and told me he would love to have me,” said Krasna.

“We never could get by Winberie’s so when I saw that it I was excited; if you can’t beat them, join them.”

For Krasna, getting into the flow with Winberie’s has come easily. “I love playing with these guys, everyone is so unselfish,” asserted Krasna.

“They play really hard and they took me and the Sibols [former Blue Devils John and Zach Sibol] in right from the start. Those guys are easy to get along with and play because they all share the ball and look for each other. I knew what to expect  coming it. I think our biggest problem with the Blue Devils is that we didn’t have more size so whenever we ran into these guys, it was tough. So I am finally on a team with a bunch of big guys. I am one of the steadying guards so it has been a pleasure playing with them; I hope we can make it work for years down the road.”

After the close call on Monday, Winberie’s will need to work out some kinks in order to overcome King’s and earn the title.

“I think we need to take care of the ball under pressure,” said Krasna. “If we can break their pressure and get easy shots, they won’t be able to press us as much and that won’t affect us. I think we got away from the pounding the ball inside. Playing outside, with the wind like this, it is important that we stay disciplined and stay with that game plan.”

 

CATCHING HER BREATH: Eva Petrone of the Community Park Bluefish swim team competes in a breaststroke event earlier this summer. Last week, Petrone took fifth in the 12-and-under 50 backstroke and 10th in the 50 breaststroke at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championships. The Bluefish placed third of six clubs in the Division 1 team standings at the meet. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CATCHING HER BREATH: Eva Petrone of the Community Park Bluefish swim team competes in a breaststroke event earlier this summer. Last week, Petrone took fifth in the 12-and-under 50 backstroke and 10th in the 50 breaststroke at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championships. The Bluefish placed third of six clubs in the Division 1 team standings at the meet. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Utilizing its strength in numbers, the Community Park Bluefish swim team proved to be a force last week at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet.

“We did well, we bumped up from fourth place last year,” said Bluefish head coach Andy Sichet, whose squad placed third of six teams in Division 1 with 2,075.50 points, trailing host Flemington-Raritan Community Pool, the winner of the meet at 2,2804.50 and runner up Lawrenceville Swim Association at 2,407.50.

“We took a bigger team than last year. Officially we have the biggest team in the league. We had a lot of kids who swam well and dropped a lot of time.”

Recent Princeton High grad and Cornell-bound Will Stange had a good time in his final PASDA appearance. Stange took first in the 18-and-under 50-meter backstroke and the 50 butterfly and helped the Bluefish to first place in the 200 medley relay and second in the 200 free relay.

“It was Will’s last year so it was an extra special swim and an extra special meet for him,” said Sichet. “He broke the team record in the backstroke at 27.74.”

While Stange led the way, the 18U boys piled up a lot of points for the Bluefish with Gabe Bar-Cohen placing second in the 18U 50 breaststroke and fifth in the 50 fly, Matt Shanahan finishing third in the 50 breast, and Stephen Kratzer coming in sixth in both the 50 free and 50 fly.

“The 18U boys was the strongest part of our team, which it never is,” noted Sichet. “When the boys hit 14, they start going to other sports ands swimming isn’t always a priority.”

The squad’s younger boys also showed plenty of strength. In the 14U  boys’ division, Matthew O’Boyle was second in the 50 free and fifth in the 50 back while Karl Lackner was second in the 50 back and the 100 individual medley. The pair of O’Boyle and Lackner together with Charles Yandrisevits and Phillip Lacava helped CP win both the 14U 200 free and medley relays. Ethan Rizzi, Gafen Bar-Cohen, and Jason Kratzer stood out in the 12U division as Rizzi placed fifth in the 50 back while Bar-Cohen was third in the 50 breast, and Kratzer finished fifth in the 50 fly. Alex Pendrous showed his versatility, winning the 10U 25 breast and taking second in the 25 fly and seventh in the 100 IM. In the 8U division, Brett Torgerson and Brendan Dombrowski proved to be a solid one-two punch. Torgerson took third in the 25 back and fourth in the 25 free while Dombrowski finished fourth in both the 25 back and 25 breast.

As for the CP girls’, Ella Jones emerged as a standout for the CP girls as she won the 8U 25 free, 25 breast, and 100 IM. Piper Dubow placed first in the 8U 25 back and fourth in the 25 breast.

“Ella Jones has become a powerhouse for us,” asserted Sichet. “She keeps going and going no matter who we have her training with. She is naturally talented and has a lot of passion for swimming. She is a wonderful kid to have on the team.”

Sichet noted that CP received some wonderful family efforts at the meet.

Three Maslanka sisters joined the team this year and made an immediate impact. Sara Maslanka displayed her all-around abilities, taking fourth in the 10U back, fifth in the 100 IM, and sixth in the 25 free. Carolyn Maslanka placed fifth in the 14U 50 breast while Rebecca Maslanka placed third in the 18U 50 back.

A stalwart CP family, the Petrones, was ably represented as Jaxon Petrone placed first in the 10U 25 free and fourth in the 100 IM while older sister, Eva Petrone, was fifth in the 12U 50 back and 10th in the 50 breast

“The Maslankas did well as a group,” said Sichet. “The Petrones are a big Bluefish family. They have been with the Bluefish for years and they are very dedicated, they come to every practice and work very hard.”

The Bluefish got some good work from a number of other girl swimmers as Piper Dubow placed first in the 8U 25 back and fourth in the 25 breast with  Isabelle Phillips taking fourth in the 100 IM, Emily Becker finishing ninth in the 50 free, Charlotte Singer coming in fourth in the 18U 50 breast, and Jessica Bai taking third in the 18U 50 fly.

All in all, the CP numbers added up to something special as the team went 4-1 in dual meets before its strong showing in the championship meet. “We had some fantastic swimming throughout the summer,” maintained Sichet.

 

BAY AREA: Daniel Baytin of the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings displays his freestyle form in a race earlier this summer. Last week at the PASDA (Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association) championship meet,  Baytin took first in the 8-and-under 25-meter freestyle, 25 breaststroke, and 100 individual medley. He also helped Nassau take first in the 100 medley relay. Nassau placed second of five teams in the Division 2 standings at the meet.  (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BAY AREA: Daniel Baytin of the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings displays his freestyle form in a race earlier this summer. Last week at the PASDA (Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association) championship meet, Baytin took first in the 8-and-under 25-meter freestyle, 25 breaststroke, and 100 individual medley. He also helped Nassau take first in the 100 medley relay. Nassau placed second of five teams in the Division 2 standings at the meet.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Morgan Sawin, the PASDA (Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association) championship meet was a key litmus test for her Nassau Swim Club Lemmings team.

“I sent an e-mail to the parents putting an emphasis on this meet,” said Nassau head coach Sawin, a former Boston University swimming star who hails from nearby Bridgewater.

“I told them it was a chance for swimmers to showcase how much they have improved this summer.”

The Nassau swimmers seized that opportunity with aplomb in the meet held at the Flemington-Raritan pool, taking second in the Division 2 standings at the PASDA meet, piling up 1,855.50 points, trailing only champion Ben Franklin with 3,315.

“We definitely did really well, better than expected,” said Sawin. “We had a good turnout. On paper, we were the third place team in league and we ended up second in the championships.”

On the boys’ side, Daniel Baytin did a really good job, taking first in the 8-and-under 25-meter freestyle, 25 breaststroke, and 100 individual medley. He also helped Nassau take first in the 100 medley relay.

“Daniel Baytin is very tall and he trains all year round,” said Sawin. “We get a lot of kids who are summer specific; they play other sports and just swim in the summer. He is a swimmer. It is pretty rare to find an 8-year-old who has already picked out his sport.”

The trio of Javier Lee, Toby Richmond, and Pierre Soumeillant combined with Baytin to help Nassau dominate the 8U age group. “Lee and Richmond were good, we put together a great relay,” said Sawin, whose 8Us also won the 100 free relay with Coll Wight joining Lee, Richmond, and Soumeillant.

“The fourth guy, Pierre Soumeillant, was new and flailing at the beginning and he was on the top relay by the end of the season. It was great to see that improvement.”

The Lemmings got great efforts from some of its other boy swimmers as Simon Sheppard won the 10U 25 free and 25 back while Andrew Koehler was fourth in the 10U 25 back, Lorne Wight was third in the 10U 25 breast and 100 IM and fourth in the 25 breast, Henry DeCheser won the 12U 50 butterfly and took fifth in the 50 free, and Calvin Ristad took second in the 12U 50 breast and fourth in the 50 free.

“Simon is pretty strong, he trains with the older group as does Andrew Koehler; they are ahead of things with their age group,” added Sawin.

“Henry was not expecting to win so that was a nice surprise for him. We had a new kid from England, Lorne Wight who was our go-to breaststroker. He decided he was going to do the IM and he did a good job with that.”

Among the younger Nassau girl swimmers, Sabine Ristad had a nice meet, winning the 8U 25 fly, taking second in the 25 free, and third in the 25 breast.

“Ristad can pretty much do everything,” asserted Sawin. “She is a swimmer, she is not tall but she is built for it, she is strong. She has got it, she has great technique for a 7-year-old.”

In the 10U group, Emma Hopkins took second in the 25 free and fifth in the 25 free with Kimi Wei placing third in the 100 IM and fourth in the 25 back and Sophia Burton was the fourth-place finisher in the 25 breast. Nassau took second in both the 100 free relay and 100 medley relay.

“Hopkins, Wei and Burton were our three strong swimmers in the 8-9 group,” said Sawin.

Isabelle Monaghan put in a strong performance in the 12U division, winning the 50 back and taking second in the 100 IM.

“Isabelle is always up there; she is a full-time swimmer,” said Sawin, noting that her older sister, Sophia Monaghan, was a star swimmer for Nassau who recently helped Stanford win the NCAA women’s water polo title. “She is following in the footsteps of her sister.”

A sister act, Julia, Margaret, and Anna Hill, gave Nassau some depth. “The three Hill girls helped us,” said Sawin.

“They moved up here last year from Virginia. Margaret is 11 but she acts like she is 18, she is very mature. Anna Hill swam up at the championships because we needed to fill in the lineup.”

As for the team’s older girls, Rachel Adlai-Gail took second in both the 14U 25 fly and 100 IM with Maddy Troilo winning the 100 IM and placing second in the 50 free. Becca Adlai-Gail was third in both the 18U 50 fly and 100 IM while Emily Klockenbrink took fifth in the 18U 50 back.

“The Adlai-Gail girls did well for us,” said Sawin. “Klockenbrink was a swimmer and a coach. She would coach 1 ½ hours and swim 1 ½ hours, She was juggling a lot, she was one of the busiest people on the team.”

Sawin liked the way the team saved its best for last. “I was pretty happy; we lost the first two meets and it was really, really nice that we got to win the last two and that they were at home,” said Sawin, who has previously coached at BU and other summer programs and works as a math teacher at Montgomery High. “We are building a team; we really need the older kids to stay.”

Having taken the helm of the program halfway through the 2013 season, Sawin enjoyed guiding the Lemmings all summer long this year.

“It was nice to start from the beginning and get to know how much the kids got better,” said Sawin.

“It was hard to tell last year when I came in the middle. There is a computer program that I put all the times into and see how much improvement there was. Some of the 8-year olds improved 20 seconds in the 25 free. It was fun to see the 5- and 6-year olds making big, big jumps.”

It was fun for Sawin to see the Lemmings display their customary camaraderie from the start. “I was shocked at the first meet, we started relays and the whole team was at the end of the pool doing an organized cheer,” said Sawin.

“I asked my assistant if she organized that and she said no, it came from the kids. There was a lot of team spirit.”

 

July 23, 2014
BIG CHIEF: Mike Catapano celebrates after a big play last fall in his rookie season for the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL. After making four tackles and a sack in 15 games during his rookie campaign, former Princeton University standout Catapano is looking to have a greater impact this season for the Chiefs.(Photo Courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs)

BIG CHIEF: Mike Catapano celebrates after a big play last fall in his rookie season for the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL. After making four tackles and a sack in 15 games during his rookie campaign, former Princeton University standout Catapano is looking to have a greater impact this season for the Chiefs. (Photo Courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs)

It reads like something out of a Hollywood script — a late-blooming player from a smaller school gets picked near the end of the NFL draft and goes on to become a contributor for an unheralded team that rises from last place to the playoffs.

But that is the story that former Princeton University football star Mike Catapano wrote last fall as the fullback turned defensive lineman was chosen in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs and went on to help the club go from 2-14 to 11-5 and an appearance in the first round of the NFL playoffs.

As Catapano prepared to start his second training camp this week, he was drawing on a silver screen hero for inspiration.

“I tune out all distractions, it is Rocky 4 mode,” said Catapano, a native of Bayville, N.Y. who will be arriving at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Mo. this week with camp slated to kick off on July 24.

“I turn off my cell phone and computer. It is getting ready for war. I take it really seriously, preparation is everything. Everybody in the NFL is strong and fast. It comes down to who is preparing the hardest and I am confident that I am doing that.”

Learning that he had survived the team cuts last summer and made the NFL was a special moment for Catapano.

“That was a huge step, it was another rung on the ladder,” said Catapano, 2012 Bushnell Cup recipient as the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year after leading the league with 12 sacks.

“I was confident that I had done enough to stick with the team. Each time you knock down one of your goals, you look to the next one. That is what you have to do to become great at what you do.”

Seeing action in the 2013 season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Catapano had a great time in his NFL debut.

“It was welcome to the NFL, it was a blast,” recalled Catapano. “I had so much fun. I played pretty well. I hit the quarterback a few times. I was like a scared kid out there.

Growing into a special teams starter and rotation player on the defensive unit for the Chiefs, a highlight for Catapano came in week six when he got to the quarterback in a 24-7 win over the Oakland Raiders.

“I think that sack in the Raider game when we broke the decibel record was big,” said Catapano, referring to a day when the Arrowhead Stadium became the loudest crowd at an outdoor sporting event as the volume reached 137.5 decibels in the closing moments of the contest, breaking the record of 136.6 set by Seattle Seahawks fans earlier in the season.

“My parents were there and a lot of my Long Island friends were there. It was special. I pointed up to the crowd.”

A low point of Catapano’s rookie campaign came in the Chiefs’ 45-44 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the playoffs when he committed a penalty as Indy overcame a 38-10 deficit to pull out the win.

“I learned I couldn’t help the team from the sidelines,” said Catapano.

“I got caught on offside, Andrew Luck (Colts quarterback) saw I was all excited. It showed that I have some growing and development to do. I was dying standing on the sidelines.”

Catapano credits Chiefs head coach Andy Reid with helping him develop as a player.

“Coach Reid is great; he is such a professional,” said Catapano, who appeared in 15 games last fall and was credited with four tackles to go with his sack. “He treats everybody on the team like men. He gives us space. He has high expectations for us but gives you leeway. He doesn’t micromanage things.”

Things went well for Catapano this spring in the club’s offseason mini-camps and Organized Team Activities (OTAs).

“It is about just being confident and knowing what I am doing,” said Catapano. “I can see the difference already, having done the technique and being in the system for a year. I want the coaches to be confident in my being out on the field.”

As Catapano enters his second NFL campaign, he is being moved up the field.

“I was drafted to play outside linebacker, they see now that I am a better fit at defensive end in the 3-4 alignment with my ability to rush the passer,” said the 6’4 Catapano.

“I had to gain weight. I wanted to get stronger but keep my speed. I want to play every down, not just on third and long. I am weighing a little over 290 (up from 270 pounds at the start of last season), somewhere around 293-294.”

In order to maximize his pass rushing skills, Catapano has undergone some varied and rigorous training. He has worked with Mixed Martial Arts expert Derek Panza and Justin Miller of Power Fitness on Long Island as well as Chuck Smith’s Defensive Line Inc. in the Atlanta, Ga. area.

“It is about exploding and blowing out of my stance,” explained Catapano. “I am doing a lot of mixed martial arts training, trying to stay strong and be explosive.”

After the Chiefs’ bounce back season in 2013, the team is looking to be even stronger this fall.

“We have got great talent from top to bottom, our mindset and heartbeat are one,” said Catapano. “We are a tight group. We had a great season but we also had to learn some lessons. Culminating with that loss is motivating us to do well.”

Catapano, for his part, is determined to have a greater impact for Kansas City.

“I want to be a dominant player in the AFC West,” asserted Catapano. “I want Mike Catapano to be a name they are talking about.”

If Catapano can achieve that goal, it will be quite a sequel.