September 10, 2014
SUMMER FLING: Princeton University rising junior Julia ­Ratcliffe displays her form in the hammer throw. In June, Ratcliffe, a native of Hamilton, New Zealand, won the NCAA championship in the event with a throw of  219’ 5. A month later, representing her homeland, Ratcliffe took silver in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland with a heave of 229’ 6.25.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

SUMMER FLING: Princeton University rising junior Julia ­Ratcliffe displays her form in the hammer throw. In June, Ratcliffe, a native of Hamilton, New Zealand, won the NCAA championship in the event with a throw of 219’ 5. A month later, representing her homeland, Ratcliffe took silver in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland with a heave of 229’ 6.25. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

As students flood back to Princeton University this week for the start of school, few will have accomplished as much over summer break as Julia Ratcliffe.

In June, the rising Princeton junior and native of Hamilton, New Zealand, won the women’s hammer throw at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore., marking the 43rd straight year that Princeton has produced at least one team or individual national champion.

A month later, representing her homeland, Ratcliffe took silver in the hammer throw in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, a prestigious international competition held every four years that features athletes from countries with ties to the British Empire.

Speaking from her summer training base in Wimbledon, England, Ratcliffe believes that her experience this summer will have a long-term benefit.

“I have competed at a high level so when I feel young and under-prepared, it is just to look back and say, I can do this,” said Ratcliffe.

“In high pressure situations like that where there are a lot of distractions, I know that I have the ability to stay focused while still enjoying myself.”

After having finished 11th at the NCAA meet in 2013, Ratcliffe showed an intense focus in taking the title this year.

“I was a bit nervous, I didn’t really want a repeat of last year,” said Ratcliffe. “I knew I basically had to hold it together and not try anything fancy or try too hard and I would probably come away with a different result.”

Ratcliffe was proud of how she kept things together when the finals turned into a two-woman contest between Colorado’s Emily Hunsucker and her.

“I am not in a position often where I have to chase people so when Hunsucker was ahead of me, she threw and then I threw one that beat her and then she threw one that beat me,” recalled Ratcliffe.

“It was oh man, this is going to be a rough one so that was quite cool. I was quite glad that I managed to hold it together through that, it was a novel situation for me. I was glad that I could keep improving on all of my throws because I kind of knew I was going to get one of the top three at least.”

Getting the NCAA title meant a lot to Ratcliffe. “I wasn’t prepared for how big it was,” said Ratcliffe.

“I knew it would be big but everyone went crazy about that, especially people from Princeton. They came up to me and all of my friends from school were so supportive and so proud of me. It means a lot, it made all the training and all the hard cold days worth it. It was more doing it for Princeton and the girls on my team.”

Days after the NCAAs, Ratcliffe headed to England to train for the Commonwealth Games, staying at her aunt’s house in Wimbledon in south London.

“It was a perfect set-up, my dad came over to coach me,” said Ratcliffe. “He was with me twice a day training so we just went down to the local track and threw down there and went to a gym and did some lifting. We had beautiful weather. It was basically ideal training conditions; everything was really accessible and convenient to get to. I could just get out there and train.”

After a training camp with the New Zealand team in Wales, Ratcliffe arrived in Scotland in late July.

“I have been to a few games where there is a village situation but the  Commonwealth Games was definitely the biggest one I have been to,” said Ratcliffe.

“It was just huge. The people of Glasgow and the volunteers, especially, were so helpful. They were falling over themselves to help you out, it made the experience awesome. It just really brought the city together. In the stadium, the noise was phenomenal. It was great because they were cheering for everyone but when a Scottish person came out, it was 10-fold, the noise was overwhelming.”

Despite her relative youth and inexperience on the international level, Ratcliffe was not overwhelmed by the atmosphere once she got into action. She achieved the qualifying standard for the final on her first throw in the preliminary round and then battled Canada’s Sultana Frizell tooth and nail in the medal round. Ratcliffe’s best throw was 69.96 (229’ 6.25), just 2.01 meters short of Frizell’s gold medal throw of 71.97.

“I got the automatic qualifier so that was a huge confidence builder,” said Ratcliffe.

“I was just ready to get out there and throw, I was training for this for all year basically, this and the NCAAs were my big competitions. I was ready, not to get it over with, but to get out there and enjoy myself. I was gutted that I couldn’t hit 70 again. To get on the world stage and throw that consistently, there are only good things to come from that.”

Succeeding on the world stage was a surreal experience for Ratcliffe. “We watched the Commonwealth Games as kids, it is kind of you like you watch the Olympics on TV,” said Ratcliffe.

“It was oh that is so cool, people are doing their country proud and winning medals. You feel so proud to be part of your country and to think that people are watching me on the TV is just something that is hard to believe. It seems not real, the competition that I went to in Glasgow where I got a medal, is it is the Commonwealth Games that you watch on TV?”

Ratcliffe’s medal-winning performance made her a TV star for a week in New Zealand.

“People didn’t know who I was before this so it was quite cool because there wasn’t a big media pressure on me to do well,” said Ratcliffe, who got in some travel during her time in England, going to Paris with her family for her 21st birthday and then traveling around Europe for two weeks with some friends after the Commonwealth Games.

“I did a lot of interviews straight after the competition and following. One of my friends e-mailed me the next day after the final and said you are on basically every news channel.”

As she looks ahead to her junior season at Princeton and beyond, Ratcliffe plans to keep making news.

“I would really like to get the meet record at NCAAs, that would be quite cool,” said Ratcliffe, who has her sights on the World Championships and World University Games in 2015 and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“I want to keep the consistency up and keep moving forward rather than looking back and saying that was a great year. I can’t sit back and keep doing what I was doing so I am keeping hungry for more improvements.”

September 3, 2014
POWERBALL: Princeton University field hockey star Teresa Benvenuti powers the ball down the field in a game last season. Junior midfielder Benvenuti, a two-time first-team All-Ivy League performer, provides good punch in the midfield for the Tigers. No. 7 Princeton opens its 2014 campaign by playing at fourth-ranked Duke on September 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

POWERBALL: Princeton University field hockey star Teresa Benvenuti powers the ball down the field in a game last season. Junior midfielder Benvenuti, a two-time first-team All-Ivy League performer, provides good punch in the midfield for the Tigers. No. 7 Princeton opens its 2014 campaign by playing at fourth-ranked Duke on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton University field hockey team, its daily theme comes down to one word — work.

The Tigers are working on playing faster, being better off the ball all over the field, playing more directly on offense, touching every ball on defense, and being more physical, among other things.

To monitor the players’ work rate, Princeton is employing state-of-the art Firstbeat technology, a software tool providing an advanced analysis of beat-by-beat heart rate data and oxygen capacity for each player as she goes through practice.

Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn likes the way her players have embraced the heavy workload.

“I am most pleased with how unified the team is,” said Holmes-Winn, who guided the Tigers to a 14-5 record in 2013 with an appearance in the NCAA quarterfinals and the program’s 19th Ivy league title in the last 20 years.

“I give so much credit to the seniors, they worked this spring to see what kind of leaders they were going to be. They are walking the walk, not just talking the talk. You see the energy in a strong way. They are setting the tone and it has transferred to the rest of the team and the freshmen are blending in. We are seeing a level of work.”

Even though Princeton is ranked No. 7 in the Monto/NFHCA preseason poll, the focus is squarely on daily improvement rather than where the Tigers stand nationally.

“I think for us it is not to prove something but to play our best hockey and maximize the group’s potential,” said Holmes-Winn.

“We focus on daily goals in a powerful way, looking to achieve our phase one goals right now. It is all about action.”

The Tigers should get plenty of goals from its group of strikers which includes senior and All-Ivy performer Allison Evans (11 goals and 6 assists in 2013), sophomore Cat Caro (9 goals, 4 assists) and junior Maddie Copeland (5 goals, 1 assist).

“Evans is so feisty, she plays with a chip on her shoulder even though she doesn’t really have one,” said Holmes-Winn.

“She has such energy. She’s utterly effective inside the attacking third. She has quick hands and makes great decisions in there. Cat Caro is so strong and physical but she plays with a beautiful touch on the ball. We are looking for Maddie to provide leadership on the front line.”

Two freshmen, Lexi Quirk and Rachel Park, could provide a spark up front.

“Lexi Quirk is so fit, she can literally run all day,” said Holmes-Winn. “She can chase and run and is a great finisher. Rachel Park has a good physiology and great touch on the ball.”

Junior star Teresa Benvenuti (8 goals, 8 assists), a two-time first-team All-Ivy performer, provides good punch in the midfield.

“Teresa is so, so powerful and her decision-making has improved every year,” said Holmes-Winn.

“We want her to overlap in the front third. She is also a phenomenal defender. She can intercept and tackle. She sets a tone; she has that aggressive mentality.”

Holmes-Winn is looking for senior Sydney Kirby (2 goals, 4 assists) to display a special work ethic in the middle of the field.

“Kirby has such an engine, she ran 2.4 miles in a 15-minute block in practice the other day and the next closest player was at 1.3 miles,” said Holmes-Winn of Kirby, an honorable mention All-Ivy choice last year.

“Her work rate is in the ball park of Katie Reinprecht ’13, she is off the charts. It has been a challenge to keep Sydney healthy. If she is, she will do some serious damage. I am excited to see her evolve this fall.”

The Tigers have several other players who will get work in the midfield. “We also have Ryan McCarthy, Cassidy Arner (2 goals), Ellen Dobrijevic, and Debi-Michelle Jantzen in the midfield,” said Holmes-Winn.

“We have a nice complement of players in the midfield, they can come in and provide support. We are going to need a lot of legs this year.”

Buoyed by the support of star defender and Olympian Julia Reinprecht ’14, Annabeth Donovan (1 goal, 4 assists) enjoyed a superb debut campaign last year, earning first-team All-Ivy honors and being named the league’s Co-Rookie of the Year.

“Donovan is even better than last year, she has refined her ball skills and has much more control,” asserted Holmes-Winn, who will also be using junior Kate Ferrara, senior Colleen Boyce, junior Saskia deQuant, and freshman Sarah Brennan, a former Princeton Day School standout, on defense.

“She has a great level of understanding of that we want to do. Having AB being able to learn from Jules was so crucial. She can come in and play center half, she has big shoes to fill. When Jules got hurt against Penn State in the NCAA tournament, she had to step in and play center half and did a great job; that is part of Julia’s legacy. AB has confidence and brings leadership, she is really a commander out there.”

Holmes-Winn is seeing some commanding efforts from her two goalies, junior Anya Gersoff (a 1.81 goals against average in 13 starts last year) and senior Julia Boyle (4.33 goals against average in two appearances).

“We are lucky to have two of the best goalies in the country, both of them have looked pretty exceptional in preseason,” said Holmes-Winn.

“Our goalie coach, David Williamson, has been working with them. They have really benefitted from him. Anya has been exceptional, she played a lot this summer and it shows. We will look at each week and see who we are playing.”

As usual, Princeton faces a challenging first week of the season, playing at No. 4 Duke on September 5, at No. 6 Virginia on September 7, and at No. 8 Penn State on September 12.

“The beginning of the season is a crap shoot, you play a deep rotation and get players some time to see what you have,” said Holmes-Winn, who guided the Tigers to the 2012 NCAA crown.

“There are a lot of internal questions and we are trying to glean answers. It is a great way to find out who you are. We want to play teams with a level of talent and pace who will be standing at the end. You get used to playing against your own players in practice, it is good to go against other players. All three opponents have different styles and philosophies, different strengths and weaknesses.”

Princeton’s philosophy centers on being strong with the ball and working hard all over the field.

“For us, it is focusing on being more comfortable on the ball,” said Holmes-Winn.

“We want confidence, poise, and more directness in the attacking third. On defense, we want to show poise and physicality and try to get a touch on every single ball.”

KICK-START: Princeton University men’s soccer player Brian Costa prepares to boot the ball upfield in a game last season. Sophomore Costa, an honorable mention, All-Ivy League choice in 2013, should provide energy and production in the midfield for the Tigers this fall. Princeton kicks off its 2014 campaign by playing at Fairleigh Dickinson University (0-2) on September 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

KICK-START: Princeton University men’s soccer player Brian Costa prepares to boot the ball upfield in a game last season. Sophomore Costa, an honorable mention, All-Ivy League choice in 2013, should provide energy and production in the midfield for the Tigers this fall. Princeton kicks off its 2014 campaign by playing at Fairleigh Dickinson University (0-2) on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In each of the last two seasons, the Princeton University men’s soccer team came agonizingly close to winning the Ivy League.

In 2012, Princeton posted a 4-1-2 league record but Cornell had a 6-1 mark to earn the crown. Last fall, the Tigers went 4-2-1 in the Ivies only to see Penn go 5-1-1 and wrest the title away from them.

Led by a group of nine seniors, Princeton is determined to get over the hump this fall.

“There is a hunger, they are into it,” said longtime Princeton head coach Jim Barlow, assessing the mood around the team in preseason.

“We are seeing energy, spirit, and chemistry. I think we have a nice balance in the senior class positionally. We have vocal leaders and guys who lead by example spread over the field.”

The senior leadership has translated into better communication on the field. “We saw in our scrimmage with Columbia how much more chatter there is,” said Barlow.

“They have a good way of pushing themselves and problem solving without waiting to hear from the coaches. The guys have been through a lot of hard, tough games.”

At forward, the Tigers should make things tough on their foes with a pair of All-Ivy performers in senior Cameron Porter (9 goals and 3 assists in 2013) and junior Thomas Sanner (7 goals, 1 assist) along with senior Julian Griggs (1 assist) and junior Nico Hurtado (2 goals, 2 assists).

“We feel we should be a little more explosive in our attack,” said Barlow.

“We are returning two first-team All-Ivy forwards and if Griggs had been healthy last year, he would have been in contention. Hurtado is creative and clever with the ball. We have some depth and some explosiveness, we are hungry to get them the ball. We are trying to figure the best positions and who should be paired with whom. We may mix and match and have different looks for different games.”

There figures to be a lot of mixing and matching in the midfield as Princeton boasts a number of options there, including junior Brendan McSherry (2 goals, 4 assists), sophomore Brian Costa (1 assist), senior Joe Saitta (1 assist), junior Jack Hilger, and sophomore Bryan Windsor (1 goal).

“We have a lot of depth in the midfield and there is not a lot separating them,” said Barlow.

“McSherry and Costa started the scrimmage, they will see a lot of playing time. There are a lot of guys who are really close. We have to figure out our top group. Some guys are trying to get fit and win a spot so some days they have heavy legs and it is tough to judge.”

Another returning All-Ivy standout, senior Myles McGinley, looks to fill the spot as a link between the defense and the midfield.

“In the spring, we played Myles wide on the right,” noted Barlow. “With Chris Benedict leaving a hole in that spot, we need someone who can defend and attack. We may have Myles at midfield/defender as a guy who gets forward a lot.”

Princeton has a lot of talent on defense, featuring first-team All-Ivy performer senior Josh Miller along with senior Andrew Mills (3 assists), sophomore Patrick Barba, sophomore Mark Romanowski, and sophomore Greg Seifert.

“Miller gives us athleticism and leadership; he keeps the back line committed,” said Barlow of Miller, the only Tiger to start all 17 games last fall.

“He is so tuned in, he reads plays and he helps others get in position. Mills came on at the end last year and he has done well. Barba has been excellent. Romanowski and Seifert are strong athletic defenders. I think we are going to be OK in the back.”

The Tigers look OK in goal with the emergence of 6’6 junior Ben Hummel. “Hummel had an excellent spring, he’s huge and athletic,” said Barlow of Hummel who made two starts last fall and had a goals against average of 1.00.

“He’s athletic for a guy that size, he played a lot of basketball in high school. He has quick movement and is good at changing direction. We are comfortable with the way he plays balls in the box. With his height, he is able to pick off balls that other keepers can’t get to.”

Barlow is hoping his squad gets things going in the right direction when they open regular season play with a game at Fairleigh Dickinson University (0-2) on September 5.

“We remember last year when things were going well in preseason and we went up there for opener and got pummeled 3-0,” said Barlow. “We never could get into a rhythm. The guys are excited for the game. FDU has done well year in, year out. I saw they lost their first game so they will be hungry.”

After going 3-7 in non-conference games last fall, Princeton is hungry to do better in that part of its schedule.

“We have a lot of guys who have been on the field a lot in the last two years,” said Barlow, noting that the team’s freshman class boasts several players who could see playing time as the season unfolds, noting that newcomers Matt Mangini, Daniel Bowkett, Michael Chang, James Reimer, Nicholas Badalamenti, and Chase Bishov all have a good pedigree.

“We want to play stronger in our non-conference games. We all struggled in the league last year except Dartmouth and then they couldn’t win in the conference. For us to get more than one team from the league in the NCAA tournament, we need to have a better RPI (Rating Percentage Index).”

Barlow, for his part, believes his team just has to be a little bit better around the goal at both ends of the field to produce a strong campaign.

“I think we can create chances with our athleticism, experience, and talent up the field,” said Barlow.

“We had chances last year but we didn’t put them away at a high percentage. The last part was not sharp enough. We can’t be panicking when we get behind defense; we need to be composed at the finish. We need to be better on re-starts, attacking, and defending on corner kicks and on throw-ins. Being rock solid defensively is the starting point.”

ON THE LOOSE: Tyler Lussi goes after the ball last fall in her freshman season season with the Princeton University women’s soccer team. Lussi made an immediate impact for the Tigers, scoring a team-high 10 goals. She will be looking to keep up her scoring as Princeton opens up its 2014 campaign by hosting Rutgers (3-0) on September 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON THE LOOSE: Tyler Lussi goes after the ball last fall in her freshman season season with the Princeton University women’s soccer team. Lussi made an immediate impact for the Tigers, scoring a team-high 10 goals. She will be looking to keep up her scoring as Princeton opens up its 2014 campaign by hosting Rutgers (3-0) on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Julie Shackford feels like a college senior again as she looks ahead to coaching the Princeton University women’s soccer team this fall.

In August, Shackford announced that her 20th campaign at the helm of the program would be her swan song, something that has linked her with the team’s Class of 2015.

“I wanted to tell them before the season so they could experience it with me,” said Shackford, who is getting remarried and relocating to Virginia.

“I told the team and the seniors are calling me one of them. They have all been supportive and really phenomenal about it.”

In making her decision to retire, Shackford is entering the last lap of a phenomenal run.

“It has been 20 years at Princeton and 25 years in coaching,” said Shackford, who has a 196-109-26 record at Princeton with an appearance in the 2004 College Cup Final 4 and six Ivy League titles and posted a 42-21-4 in five years at Carnegie Mellon before taking over the Tigers.

“I have given almost half my life to a great institution. I wanted to go out now, it feels right.”

Shackford believes the team’s group of nine seniors can help get the Tigers back on the right track as the program looks to rebound from going 7-6-4 overall last year and 1-5-1 in Ivy play.

“We have a big senior class and historically those have been the teams that have done well in the Ivy League,” said Shackford. “The senior class is pretty intent; they have guided the group.”

The Tigers appear to have a pretty good attack group, paced by sophomore Tyler Lussi, who had a team-high 10 goals along with four assists in her debut campaign. She will be joined by senior Melissa Downey (3 goals and 1 assist in 2013), senior Gabrielle Ragazzo (1 goal, 2 assists), senior Liana
Cornacchio, and freshman Beth Stella.

“Lussi is looking good,” said Shackford, noting that she plans to go with a 4-2-3-1 formation this season.

“I think Melissa is ready to do her thing, she was coming off a knee injury last year. I moved Ragazzo up top from the back. We are going to play a target, I have Liana and freshman Beth Stella in that spot.”

In the midfield, the Tigers will have a distinctive Canadian flavor as sophomore Nicole Loncar (1 assist), freshman Vanessa Gregoire, and freshman Alessia Azermadhi all hail from north of the border.

“We will have some holding midfielders,” said Shackford. “Nicole had a compartment injury last year and she is really doing well. Vanessa played for the Canada U-20 team. She is a good player, she is already leading that group. Alessia will be in that spot. We will have players rotating through that middle spot, including Jessica Haley (3 goals, 2 assists).”

Shackford has rotated two key players, sophomore Jess McDonough (1 goal, 1 assist) and senior Lauren Lazo (5 goals, 7 assists), to the back of the field in order to shore up the defense.

“McDonough is going to be playing in the middle of the back line so she needs to make a big jump,” said Shackford, who will also use junior Emily Sura (1 assist) and freshman Natalie Larkin on the back line.

“I have moved Lazo to the back. She is so quick and can still get points from that position. She played there all spring and looked really good.”

At goalie, senior Darcy Hargadon (1.42 goals against average in 12 starts last year) has been looking good as she heads into her final campaign.

“Darcy has done well in the preseason, I think she is ready to really step up,” said Shackford, whose reserve keepers are sophomore Hannah Winner and senior MicKenzie Roberts-Lahti.

The Tigers will need to step up from the start as they open the 2014 campaign by hosting Rutgers on September 5.

“That is a tough opening game, they have already won two games and they are good up top,” said Shackford of the Scarlet Knights, who topped Seton Hall 1-0 last Friday to improve to 3-0. “We have never backed away from a challenge.”

While Shackford knows it will be a challenge for Princeton to return to the top of the Ivies, she thinks the squad has the ability to make her farewell tour memorable.

“We will be a talented team,” said Shackford, who guided the Tigers to the 2012 Ivy title as they went 7-0 in league play for the second time in Shackford’s tenure.

“I think we will be good on attack but we will need the younger kids in the back to mature and stay in position. If the defense and goaltending is good, I think we will be a contender.”

August 27, 2014
BACK IN THE FLOW: Heidi Robbins gives her all in a 2013 race for the Princeton University women’s open varsity 8 during her senior season. Robbins made the U.S. women’s 8 for the 2013 World Rowing Championships but was unable to compete after suffering a back injury. Recovering from that setback, Robbins regained her spot on the 8 and is competing this week for the U.S in this year’s World Championship regatta, which is taking place in Amsterdam, Netherlands from August 24-31.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Rowing)

BACK IN THE FLOW: Heidi Robbins gives her all in a 2013 race for the Princeton University women’s open varsity 8 during her senior season. Robbins made the U.S. women’s 8 for the 2013 World Rowing Championships but was unable to compete after suffering a back injury. Recovering from that setback, Robbins regained her spot on the 8 and is competing this week for the U.S in this year’s World Championship regatta, which is taking place in Amsterdam, Netherlands from August 24-31. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Rowing)

Starting rowing as a walk-on to the Princeton University women’s open crew program in 2009, Heidi Robbins has enjoyed an astonishing rise up the sport’s ladder.

Robbins, a native of Hanover, N.H., made the Tiger varsity 8 as a sophomore and helped the boat win the NCAA championship in 2011. She then earned a spot in the U.S. U-23 program and was on the U.S. women’s 8 that earned gold in the 2012 U-23 world championships.

After ending her Princeton career in 2013 by helping the varsity 8 to a win in the Ivy League regatta and a second place finish at the NCAAs,  Robbins joined the U.S. senior national team.

In her first race with the U.S. women’s 8, she competed from the stroke seat as the boat set a world record of 5:54.16 for 2,000-meters in a world cup race in Lucerne.

Robbins was later chosen for the U.S. women’s 8 to compete in the 2013 World Rowing Championships at Linz, Austria.

But then Robbins hit the first roadblock of her rowing career. “We were over there and training and I hurt my back,” said Robbins.

“I had a herniated disc, it was sudden and it was pretty definite that I was going to be sidelined. It was a devastating loss, I had been so excited to be part of something.”

After months of rest and rehab, Robbins got back in the flow this year and made the U.S. women’s 8 that will be competing this week in the 2014 worlds, which is taking place in Amsterdam, Netherlands from August 24-31.

For Robbins, the injury setback helped give her a new perspective on the sport.

“It shifted the way I thought about things; it is a long haul and things aren’t always going to go well,” said Robbins.

“I know there are going to be blows and that I can come back. I know it is going to be a long haul and I still have a long way to go. I talked to some of the older rowers and it hasn’t been a straight line for them. The trajectory for everyone has been up and down; everyone has been there.”

Robbins ended her PU career on an up note in 2013, helping the Tiger varsity 8 to first in the Ivy regatta and second at the NCAAs.

“As a senior, to have that kind of race at the NCAAs was a good way to finish,” said Robbins.

“It was quite a race. It was a long season and there were races that we won but didn’t have the speed we wanted. We came together in that last race. We were up on the other boats at 500 meters. We threw it all down and Cal came through at the end.”

Things came together in college for Robbins through her decision to take up rowing. “I think the Princeton program has given me a lot of support,” said Robbins.

“It gave me confidence and helped me find myself in college. It gave me the feeling that I mattered, that I had a role and that people were invested in me. When you leave college, you realize you are on your own.”

It didn’t take long for Robbins to grasp that she was going solo after college.

“I had graduation and then the next day I was at national team practice,” recalled Robbins.

“The train kept rolling, the more I thought about it, the more scared I got. It was a very different system. There was a sense of loss, there was a little grieving. I couldn’t believe college was over and I was going to miss it terribly but there is a time and place for that.”

Despite ultimately getting chosen for the U.S. women’s 8, Robbins still harbored some fears.

“When I made it, it was oh my god, this is the two-time Olympic gold medalist,” said Robbins. “I was really intimidated. I put my head down and continued to do what I knew.”

Helping the U.S. boat set a world record in her debut at the senior level was a heady experience for Robbins.

“Lucerne was my first race, you talk about having some nerves,” said Robbins.

“I was at stroke. You just have to do what you know, I put my blinders on. It was a tremendous race, it was a lot of fun. You are so in a zone. At 1,000 meters, the cox, Katelin Snyder, told us the split and it was like an out of body experience the rest of the race. It was just driving and driving as hard as you could.”

Displaying her drive, Robbins has worked hard to get back up to full speed in rehabbing from her injury.

“It took time for me to get my strength back,” said Robbins. “It took three months before I felt I had my old self back again. I have gotten stronger physically, so hopefully I won’t get hurt rowing. I am better at taking care of my body and recovering.”

For Robbins, regaining her place on the 8 for the worlds left her with a feeling of redemption.

“I am so grateful to have another chance,” said Robbins. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity. The majority of last year’s boat is back with some new additions. There is a fun dynamic.”

That dynamic mixed with some arduous training has Robbins excited about the boat’s prospects in Amsterdam.

“The training has been good; they told us to expect to feel tired getting on the plane for the flight over there,” said Robbins.

“There are always expectations. You have to take it like it is your first time and take your best shot. It is my first time; I can’t wait to be out there.”

Now, Robbins is hoping to ascend to the summit of rowing by competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“That is the goal,” said Robbins, who has been keeping busy off the water by working in a lab with the Princeton biology department and hopes to go to medical school someday.

“When I first got rowing with the national team I was asked how long I was going to be rowing and I said my dream would be the Olympics. I was quiet about it at first. It is my goal, it is my dream so I don’t need to be quiet about it.”

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.”

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.”

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.

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.”

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.”

 

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.

July 16, 2014
WORLD CLASS: Katie Reinprecht controls the ball in action for the U.S. national field hockey team. Last month, the former Princeton University standout midfielder helped the U.S. take fourth at the 2014 Rabobank World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands.(Photo Courtesy of USA Field Hockey/Yuchen Nie)

WORLD CLASS: Katie Reinprecht controls the ball in action for the U.S. national field hockey team. Last month, the former Princeton University standout midfielder helped the U.S. take fourth at the 2014 Rabobank World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands. (Photo Courtesy of USA Field Hockey/Yuchen Nie)

Katie Reinprecht was a little rusty when she played for the U.S. national field hockey team in the Pan American Cup last fall.

Having taken a hiatus from the game after her senior season in Princeton in 2012, star midfielder Reinprecht lacked her characteristic sharpness.

But showing the savvy that comes from being the Longstreth/NFHCA Player of the Year in 2012 as Princeton won the NCAA title, and having competed for the U.S. squad since 2009, Reinprecht made her presence felt in the tournament.

“I had more experience than a lot of the girls so I was able to lead that way,” said Reinprecht, who helped the U.S. take second at the competition and earn a berth in the 2014 World Cup.

“We have a lot of new girls on the the team. I don’t think I got my groove back until later in the year, I was off that spring.”

This spring, the U.S found a groove as it defeated Ireland 3-1 to win the Champions Challenge in Glasgow, Scotland.

“In April we were in the Champions Challenge,” said Reinprecht. “The top 8 teams play in the 2016 Champions Trophy (the major warm-up tournament before the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games) and we had to win the Champions Challenge to qualify for that. It was a good step forward.”

Last month, Reinprecht starred as the U.S. took a big step forward, placing fourth in the 2014 Rabobank World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands.

Coming into the tourney, the U.S. made a big commitment to raise its fitness level. “We have a new strength and conditioning trainer, we train how we are going to play in the game,” said Reinprecht, noting that the U.S. national team is now based in Lancaster, Pa. at the Spooky Nook sports complex.

“It is high tempo, high intensity with more conditioning thrown in there. It makes it really tough but it is important to get through it. You get to rest the next week, it is very scientific and thought out.”

As it arrived in the Netherlands for the competition, the U.S. team was looking to keep its thoughts on the present.

“The big thing for this team is that we have only been together for a year so this is going to be a process,” said Reinprecht.

“We didn’t want to come into this with high expectations and put a lot of pressure on us. We wanted to finish higher than our ranking which would mean 9th or better. We wanted to take it one game at a time because when you are in a game there that is all that matters. Each game can have such impact.”

The 10th-ranked U.S. made an impact, going 4-0-1 during group play, tying No. 2 Argentina and posting wins over No. 7 China, No. 6 Germany, No. 11 South Africa, and No. 3 England.

“We were very pleased with how we played in the pool play, we took down some opponents that were ranked higher,” said Reinprecht, who was tied for the team lead in goals (3) in group action. “We stayed focused, we didn’t get ahead of ourselves.”

In Reinprecht’s view, the 2-2 tie with Argentina spoke volumes about the focus the U.S. brought into the competition.

“It is always a very intense game when we match up against Argentina; it set the tone for us,” said Reinprecht, who scored a goal in the contest.

“Getting a win in that first game was great but the fight we showed against Argentina sent a message on what kind of team we were going to be. It gave us a lot of confidence.”

Getting to compete for the U.S. with younger sister and former Princeton teammate, Julia, along with another fellow Tiger, Kat Sharkey, was a great experience for Reinprecht.

“It is very nice playing with Kat, we have had a lot of time training and playing together,” said Reinprecht, who has now played in more than 100 games for the national squad, more than any Princeton alum.

“I know what to expect from her. She is one of the most lethal finishers in the game so it is is nice to have her on the team. Julia returned from her injury and it didn’t look like it fazed her in any way.”

While falling to Australia in the semis in a shootout after the teams knotted at 2-2 through regulation and overtime hurt, Reinprecht was proud of how the U.S. played.

“It was the first time any of us had ever been in that situation at this level of competition,” said Reinprecht.

“We delivered a good performance in the semi. We just ran out of time. It was tough to lose in a shootout. We haven’t practiced shootouts much, that was the least of our worries.”

Ending the competition with a 2-1 defeat to Argentina in the bronze medal game left Reinprecht and her teammate hungry for more.

“It didn’t go the way we wanted but it was our first stab at the medal round and we have to be happy finishing fourth,” said Reinprecht.

“We wanted a medal, we were so close we could taste it. We learned some good lessons. It is hard to leave and not be pleased. It was a step in the right direction. We have raised the bar.”

Having played in the 2012 Summer Olympics, Reinprecht will be working hard to earn a trip to the Rio games in two years.

“Right now, playing in the Olympics is the projection,” said Reinprecht. “We have a good core group. I am excited to see what we can do. I will be doing full-time training. I think my game can definitely improve. When I look at the best players in the world, I know I have some ways to go. I excelled in some ways in the World Cup. I have been working a lot on my shot and having variety in the circle. I scored in some ways that I don’t normally score and coach said I guess that work is paying off.”

July 9, 2014
FAMILY BUSINESS: Spencer Washburn surveys the action as an assistant coach for the Princeton University men’s heavyweight crew program. Washburn, a former star Tiger rower who has been coaching at his alma mater for the last seven years, is heading to Deerfield Academy (Mass.) to be the head coach of its crew program. In so doing, Washburn is following in a proud family legacy as his father and grandfather both had legendary runs as prep crew coaches. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Rowing)

FAMILY BUSINESS: Spencer Washburn surveys the action as an assistant coach for the Princeton University men’s heavyweight crew program. Washburn, a former star Tiger rower who has been coaching at his alma mater for the last seven years, is heading to Deerfield Academy (Mass.) to be the head coach of its crew program. In so doing, Washburn is following in a proud family legacy as his father and grandfather both had legendary runs as prep crew coaches.
(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Rowing)

His grandfather coached crew at the St. Andrew’s School (Del.) for 40 years and his father became a legend in New England rowing circles during his three decades guiding the Phillips Andover Academy (Mass.) program.

So when Spencer Washburn got an offer in 2005 to serve as a coach for the Hun School crew team after completing his career as a heavyweight rower for Princeton University, he jumped at the opportunity.

“I grew up around the sport, the whole family has been involved,” said Washburn.

“I have been immersed in it since birth; there are lots of pictures of me as a little toddler out on the launch watching the practice. I saw the impact that my father had on the kids that rowed for him and that was really powerful to me. I had met people who had rowed for my grandfather at St. Andrews and remember hearing the stories about that. So coming out of here there was no question that this was a path that I wanted to take.”

After a two-year stint at Hun, Washburn came across town to his alma mater where he served three years as an assistant coach for the Princeton men’s lightweights and four years assisting for the Tiger heavyweight program.

But the tug of the family business is taking him away from Princeton as he will be taking over the Deerfield Academy (Mass.) crew program this August.

“There is no part of me that will ever want to leave this place but Deerfield is offering a great opportunity for our family and for us professionally so I think we need to go,” said Washburn, whose wife, Megan, will be teaching science at Deerfield as the couple raises their two young sons, Caden, age 3, and Teague, age 1. “It is a challenge we need to take on.”

In starting his coaching career at Hun, Washburn relished the challenge of putting together a team.

“Hun was a great opportunity for me,” said Washburn, who coached the girls’ team and was also the school’s Associate Director of Residential Life.

“At the time, I felt like I was in there doing a good job, the girls were doing a good job and the results were good. Looking back now, I realize I dove into it without any sense of what I was doing or how to do it well. I think it was a real testament to the girls that they were as successful as they were because it wasn’t really me. It was a great experience for me to go in there and have a program and to be able to have the freedom to try some things and make some mistakes. There were some coaches around there, like Geoff Evans, who were really helpful.”

Living in town, Washburn developed the itch to coach at Princeton and got the opportunity to join the Tiger men’s lightweight program after some pestering of head coach Greg Hughes and assistant coach Scott Alwin’s promotion to head coach at Columbia.

While Washburn knew the college drill from a rower’s perspective, he quickly realized that coaching at that level was all consuming.

“High school is a short season, just a couple of weeks in the spring,” said Washburn.

“You get here and it is rowing 24/7. As much as I have really enjoyed it, that was a big adjustment. You go from being able to balance out the rowing and being able to step back and think about the dorm stuff to where you are always thinking about the lineup or the training or recruiting.”

Washburn got the chance to cut his teeth by guiding the freshman lightweight boat.

“I had the freshman boat and Greg was really hands off,” said Washburn. “He said ‘I have got the varsity boats and this is your boat. If you have got questions, let me know and we will do stuff together here or there but this is your boat.’”

Handling a key aspect of college coaching, the recruiting of student-athletes, required Washburn to master new stuff.

“The recruiting piece really required a lot of time,” said Washburn “You have got to learn the rules and how to go about it. You also have to find your voice and you have to find the way that you connect with these kids who are going through a pretty significant time in their lives. I think over the time I have found my voice. I don’t think I am one of those coaches that tells a kid that you have to come here. It is much more let’s figure out if this is a good place for you and a place where you will thrive and where you will develop and enjoy things. If it is not, OK.”

Seeing the lightweight first varsity boat produce a historic 2009 campaign that saw it win championships at the Eastern Sprints, the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) nationals and the Henley Royal Regatta proved to be a key step in Washburn’s development as a coach.

“I was watching what he was doing from afar and that was where you saw those guys operating at maximum capacity and maximum ability,” said Washburn.

“Greg was reading what they needed and giving them what they needed as they needed it. To see that work was truly inspiring and you realized that OK when it is all working together, that is what you can achieve.”

Moving up to the Tiger men’s heavyweight program along with Hughes after that season was a natural step for Washburn.

“I knew the schedule, I knew the rhythm of that year, I knew the opponents much more so I felt much more comfortable,” said Washburn.

“It became much more personal, not that the lightweight stuff wasn’t, but this is the team I spent four years really trying to develop. All of my buddies who had graduated were excited to see me go back to that and they were saying let’s get it back up and going to where we know it can be. So for me there was a lot of personal pride tied up, not just in the team succeeding but it was my team succeeding. It was really exciting for me to have a chance to be involved with that program.”

With the heavyweights having hit a lull, Washburn and Hughes concluded that the rowers needed to put their noses to the grindstone.

“Greg and I spent a lot of time that summer talking,” said Washburn. “From afar, we saw where that program was and what we thought they might need. I think ultimately we felt like there were some good athletes there and they just might need a push.”

Over the last few years, Washburn became essentially a co-coach with Hughes.

“I think for me the first couple of years were hard because I had rowed for him so I still had this kind of feeling, he is the coach and I am rowing for him,” said Washburn.

“I think in the past couple of years that dynamic has adjusted from my end where I have allowed myself to come out of that and I have become much more of a partner with him. We are talking about the whole team and every guy. I really appreciate the fact that he takes my opinion and I think puts a lot of weight on it.”

Hughes, for his part, made his opinion of Washburn clear in comments on the Princeton athletics website upon the announcement of Wyatt Allen as the new assistant coach.

“Spencer’s impact on rowing at Princeton is immeasurable,” Hughes said.

“First as an athlete, then as a coach, he has consistently proven himself as a winner. This success was not just seen in results, but also in the way that Princeton trained and raced. Spencer is the hardest worker I’ve ever known and he leads by example with the kind of attitude and character that inspires those around him to strive for excellence in what they do and the way that they do it …. I wish Spencer all the best up at Deerfield. He is pursuing a passion that has long pulled him and the fact that he earned this opportunity is evidence that good things happen to good people.”

In his final Tiger campaign, Washburn had to put in some extra work to get his second varsity boat on track. “This was definitely a year where it took some time to come together,” said Washburn.

“Last year’s 2V, that got second in the sprints and fourth at the IRAs, jelled early on and we spent a lot of the spring trying to maintain that speed. With this year’s group, I think there was a lot more overlap between the 1V and the 2V. We spent more time doing selection so we didn’t set the boat until the late spring. Then once we did, the 2V showed lots of flashes of real ability but it just took us a little more time to figure out how to draw it all out.”

Figuring things out at the right time, the boat finished second at the IRAs, producing a fitting finale to Washburn’s Princeton tenure.

“That was such an exciting race, to see them out together, all of the elements of which they are capable of doing on that big stage against really, really good crews,” said Washburn, noting that the boat topped perennial champion Washington and trailed only a powerhouse Cal crew.

“That is what you hope you get as a coach and as an athlete. You hope you can produce your best performance when it matters most and they did. So that was amazingly gratifying to see them do it. It was a pretty good way to go out.”

As Washburn heads to Deerfield, he will be focused on getting his new rowers to produce their best.

“Whether it is high school or college rowing, you coach the same way,” said Washburn, noting that he will be going against his two younger brothers as Taylor will be coaching at Tabor Academy (Mass.) and Parker is coaching at Choate Rosemary Hall (Conn.).

“What I learned from Greg in the past two years is that kids have an amazing way of reaching the expectations you set for them. Sometimes, and I was guilty of this, you would set a bar lower because you wanted to make sure that they hit it. I think what we found in the last couple of years is that if you keep pushing it out there, they find ways of getting there. One of the big lessons that I learned was to challenge the kids and give them goals they might not think they can achieve but you help them and you provide the right structure for them to get there. When they do achieve them, they look back and say, wow I have come a long way, and they are pretty excited.”

Washburn’s goal now is to achieve special things over the long term at Deerfield.

“I look around at the people I admire the most and they have all found a program they can lock into and develop and make their own,” said Washburn, who will also be working in the school’s college advising office.

“My father and my grandfather did that and the fact that Greg and Lori (Princeton women’s open coach Lori Dauphiny) are doing it here is a really appealing thing. You can really create a standard and a culture that you can be proud of and the kids come in and want to be part of. I don’t think you can do that overnight and I don’t think you want to bounce around to do that at a million places.”

July 2, 2014
ATHLETIC MOVE: Michael Fagan uncorks a pitch this spring during his senior campaign for the Princeton University baseball team. Fagan earned first-team All-Ivy League recognition this year as he went 4-2 with a 2.33 ERA. The San Diego native was picked by the Oakland Athletics in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. He signed with the organization and is currently pitching for the Vermont Lake Monsters of the New-York Pennsylvania League, a short-season A circuit.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

ATHLETIC MOVE: Michael Fagan uncorks a pitch this spring during his senior campaign for the Princeton University baseball team. Fagan earned first-team All-Ivy League recognition this year as he went 4-2 with a 2.33 ERA. The San Diego native was picked by the Oakland Athletics in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. He signed with the organization and is currently pitching for the Vermont Lake Monsters of the New-York Pennsylvania League, a short-season A circuit. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

After a frustrating junior season with the Princeton University baseball team in 2013, Michael Fagan took a hiatus from the game.

“I got burned out and didn’t play over the summer last year,” said Fagan, who went 1-4 with a 7.99 ERA in 2013.

“I took an internship in New York City. It cleared my head, working 9-5, I saw how baseball could be fun again. I didn’t pick up a ball, except to play softball for my office. That was fun, I could hit and they needed me for my defense.”

Coming back to Princeton for his senior year, Fagan brought a fresh perspective.

“I went into the fall only expecting to lead the team and have fun,” said Fagan, a 5’11, 160-pound lefty who hails from San Diego, Calif.

“I thought it was going to be my last year of organized baseball. I worked with Matt Bowman (former Princeton star currently pitching for Binghamton in the New York Mets organization) that fall; he hammered in some mechanics for me. After the fall, I worked with a sports psychologist. He helped me develop a pre-pitch routine so one pitch didn’t carry over to the next. One of my big problems was that I would go to a 1-0 count and then start thinking that I was going to walk the batter. I learned that balls will happen, errors will happen.”

Applying those mechanical and mental lessons, Fagan developed into one of the top pitchers in the Ivy League this spring, going 4-2 with a 2.33 ERA as he earned first-team All-Ivy recognition. Fagan struck out 77 and walked 18 while allowing 46 hits in 58 innings pitched.

Turning heads with his dramatic improvement, Fagan was picked by the Oakland Athletics in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Signing with the A’s, Fagan started his pro career with the Athletics of the rookie-level Arizona League and was quickly promoted to the Vermont Lake Monsters of the New-York Pennsylvania League, a short-season A circuit.

Fagan, who had been chosen by the San Diego Padres in the 45th round of the 2010 MLB draft after finishing high school, sensed he was back on the pro radar after an outstanding effort against Cornell in late April when he struck out 11 in nine innings against the Big Red.

“After the weekend at Cornell I thought I would be taken,” said Fagan. “I went against the top pitching prospect in the Ivy League (Brent Jones who got chosen in the 4th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks) and there were 50-60 scouts there. After that I had some pre-draft workouts but no real contact with Oakland. In the 8th round, Oakland called and said if I was still available in the 9th, they would take me. I was excited. I thought it was a good fit and a good organization.”

For Fagan, getting organized at Princeton took some work. “Time management was a big thing, the baseball wasn’t so hard but it was balancing time with studies,” said Fagan.

“Going from high school to Princeton was a huge adjustment. I could spend 15 minutes a week on a course in high school and get an A; it was not like that at Princeton. Also in high school, baseball was basically 3-5 p.m. At Princeton, we had morning lifts and practices at night. It took me a few years to get used to the system.”

After going a combined 3-10 in his first three years with the Tigers, Fagan was ready to lift his game.

“By the time I got to the fourth year, I could lead on and off the field,” asserted Fagan.

“I had my worst outing at Greensboro, I went out after four innings and then I had a great outing against Cornell and there was no discernible difference with the way I walked off the field.”

When Fagan walked on the field for his first pro outing on June 20, he was definitely feeling some butterflies.

“I had the A’s home uniform on and my heart was racing,” recalled Fagan, who went 1 2/3 innings, giving up no runs and one hit with two strikeouts.

“I walked the first batter on four pitches and none of them were close. After the first batter. I got two ground balls. In the next inning, I got two strikeouts before I reached my pitching count. I calmed down my emotions; it is a testament to how well things went with Matt and the sports psychologist.”

Since signing with the A’s, Fagan has benefitted from some intense training on the nuances of pitching.

“It has been great,” said Fagan. “I spent the first two weeks in Arizona, honing mechanics, working on pitching philosophy and learning what pitches to throw when, there is so much to learn.”

While Fagan has been mainly a starting pitcher on his way to the pros, it looks like he will be coming out of the bullpen for the A’s organization.

“I think they will be using me as a reliever for the most part,” said Fagan, who had one more outing for Arizona before getting promoted to the Lake Monsters, where he has posted a 3.38 ERA in 2 2/3 innings of work in two outings with a 0-0 record and three strikeouts.

“They are into velocity. I throw 89-91 mph as a starter; I can bring it up to 91-93 as a reliever. In summer after sophomore year, I played in the Northwoods League and I was a reliever the whole time. I like the idea of coming in and throwing my best for 25 pitches. It is a different type of game, you are not trying to set batters up, like showing less on a slider and then showing more the second time through the lineup.”

Now, Fagan is looking to spend a long time in the game. “I just want to be a professional everyday and continue learning,” said Fagan.

“I have 3+ pitches but I need to learn when to use them and learn the sequence of pitching.”

 

June 25, 2014
VOICE OF CHANGE: Ron Fogarty makes a point at his introductory press conference last week after he was named as the new head coach of the Princeton University men’s hockey program. Fogarty spent the last seven seasons as the head coach at Adrian College in Michigan where he posted a 167-23-10 record with the Bulldogs making four appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament, advancing to the championship game in 2010-11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

VOICE OF CHANGE: Ron Fogarty makes a point at his introductory press conference last week after he was named as the new head coach of the Princeton University men’s hockey program. Fogarty spent the last seven seasons as the head coach at Adrian College in Michigan where he posted a 167-23-10 record with the Bulldogs making four appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament, advancing to the championship game in 2010-11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Ron Fogarty has proven that he can build a college hockey program from scratch.

Starting the men’s hockey team at Adrian College in Michigan seven years ago, Fogarty experienced instant success, guiding the Bulldogs to a 26-3 record during their inaugural campaign in 2007-08.

During his tenure at Adrian, Fogarty compiled a 167-23-10 record as the Bulldogs made four appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament, advancing to the championship game in 2010-11 where they lost 4-3 to St. Norbert.

Now Fogarty is getting the chance to prove he can rebuild a proud but struggling program, getting named last week as the new head coach of the Princeton University men’s hockey program, which posted an overall 6-26 record last winter as it sank to the cellar of ECAC Hockey.

True to character, Fogarty, a former standout player at Colgate in the mid-1990s, is hitting the ground running as he takes the helm of the Tigers.

“I am so excited to be here at Princeton; this opportunity doesn’t come up much in someone’s life,” said Fogarty, 42, at his introductory press conference on June 17.

“I can’t wait to call the current players and incoming freshmen today. I am looking forward to seeing what their goals are individually and what their team-oriented goals are for the upcoming season. I want them to have full ownership in the team. This is their team, it is not my team. It is the Princeton’s community, our alumni, our staff, administrators, faculty, and fan base; it is our team.”

Fogarty is unfazed about making the jump to coaching at the Division I level as he replaces Bob Prier, who resigned this spring after three years at Princeton where he compiled an overall record of 25-58-12.

“It is not a challenge, it is the same thing with hockey; I think there are three things that you have to have regardless of what level you are being a coach,” said the amiable and earnest Fogarty, citing trust, enthusiasm, and ownership as those bedrock qualities.

“You can win everywhere and anywhere. I think you just have to treat people the right way and get the most out of them.”

Fogarty’s squads at Adrian played offense at a high level, leading D-III teams in scoring four times.

“I am a puck possession coach,” explained Fogarty, who served as an assistant coach at Colgate, Clarkson, and Bowling Green before coming to Adrian.

“I want to keep the puck, I want to control the middle of the ice and outnumber them in the defensive zone but also allow the forwards and defensemen to join the play and create. At the end of the day, you want to score one more goal than the opponent and our mission is to score one more goal than the opponent. I want the guys to play freely and come back to the bench, to tell what they see during the game. The style of play is going to be predicated on the practices and what is coming into the program and then we’ll go from there.”

Fogarty’s experience in the ECACH as a player and assistant coach will come in handy as he takes the reins at Princeton.

“It helps me greatly, I am familiar with the arenas and I am very familiar with the other coaches in the conference and their styles,” said Fogarty, a native of Sarnia, Ontario who scored 141 points in his playing career at Colgate, ranking 20th on the program’s all-time scoring list at the time of his graduation in 1995.

“I follow college hockey at the D-1 level albeit I am in Adrian, Michigan but I am a hockey fanatic. I appreciate the coaches, I am going to have to prepare smarter, harder, and longer because it is a great fraternity of coaches in the ECAC, look at the two past national champions (ECACH members Union and Yale). A lot has changed since I left the ECAC, it has become a stronger conference in terms of the hockey product. I am eagerly looking forward to the challenge.”

Incoming Princeton Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux believes that Fogarty is up to the challenge.

“Ron knows how to build a winning program,” said Marcoux in her introductory remarks at the press conference.

“He knows the value of teamwork and working hard toward individual and team improvement everyday. He values the overall student-athlete experience and the role coaches play in helping athletes achieve their goals. We are confident that those qualities coupled with his tremendous hockey knowledge will allow him to bring greatness back to Baker Rink. Under Ron’s leadership and with the very talented student athletes that we have in our program, we are confident that Princeton will consistently compete for Ivy, ECAC, and national titles and will be a team that is admired and respected by all.”

Fogarty, for his part, is confident that Princeton can be great on and off the ice under his stewardship.

“It is a work in progress and it starts after I leave here to start calling those incoming freshmen and returning players to see what their goals are and how collectively we are going to get there,” said Fogarty, noting that he is considering retaining one of the two current Tiger assistant coaches, Scott Garrow or Greg Gardner, to aid continuity.

“We will win and we will be successful in the classroom. We’ll be ambassadors on and off the ice in the community and we will have relentless competitors on the ice.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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