August 21, 2013
JERSEY PRIDE: Mike Ambrosia heads up the ice last winter in his freshman season with the Princeton University men’s hockey team. The Chatham, N.J. native recently skated at his second straight New Jersey Devils Development Camp held on the AmeriHealth Pavillion rink in Newark.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

JERSEY PRIDE: Mike Ambrosia heads up the ice last winter in his freshman season with the Princeton University men’s hockey team. The Chatham, N.J. native recently skated at his second straight New Jersey Devils Development Camp held on the AmeriHealth Pavillion rink in Newark. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Growing up as an ice hockey star in Chatham, N.J., Mike Ambrosia closely followed two teams in his home state.

“One of my older cousins went to Princeton and growing up I came to a lot of games at Baker Rink,” said Ambrosia, a star for the New Jersey Colonials travel team and the Delbarton School. “I started playing hockey early and we would go a couple of times a year. I was always a fan of the New Jersey Devils too.”

Ambrosia, who helped Delbarton win three New Jersey state titles, has achieved the rare feat of going from the stands to the ice for his teams.

The 5’11, 180-pound forward joined the Princeton University men’s hockey team last winter, scoring 11 points on six goals and five assists in 21 appearances in his debut campaign. Last month, he skated at his second straight New Jersey Devils Development Camp held on the AmeriHealth Pavillion rink in Newark.

For Ambrosia, committing to Princeton after his junior year at Delbarton was a no-brainer. “Education is very important to my family and I was looking at the Ivy League schools,” said Ambrosia, whose father, David, played hockey at Cornell, while his mother, Lynn, was a lacrosse player for the Big Red.

“In high school, the focus is working hard on and off the ice and seeing how things play out. Princeton was always my No. 1 choice and when they made the offer I jumped on it. It is a great fit with the academics and and athletics. I had met the coaches and the players and I really liked them.”

Prior to starting college hockey, Ambrosia did a two-year stint in juniors with the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL.

“It was an awesome experience,” asserted Ambrosia, who was Youngstown’s Rookie of the Year and then served as a captain in his second season, leading the Phantoms in scoring with 65 points in 60 games as the team set a franchise record of 32 wins with its first playoff appearance and series win.

“I was lucky because I was drafted by the team that is farthest east in the league. My family could come to a lot of the games. I know I am biased but I think it is the greatest organization in juniors. The coaches relate to the program. I grew as a player and as a person. We do a lot of work in the community. I took a couple of on-line courses to stay sharp.”

A few months before joining the Princeton squad, Ambrosia took part in his first Devils development camp.

“In any one-week camp, you act as a sponge, taking in as much information as you can,” said Ambrosia.

“You learn nuances, you figure out little things. You don’t get better that week but you work those into your training and game. You are not going to get better that week but you implement the things that you learned. You work on things like where to put your stick on ice and breakouts.”

Ambrosia kept learning as he went through his freshman season with the Tigers.

“Being out of school for two years, time management was a big thing, balancing academics, athletics, and social,” said Ambrosia. “I was really excited to be there.”

An exciting moment for Ambrosia came when he notched his first college goal, scoring in the first period of a 4-0 win over Colgate last November at a packed Baker Rink.

“I remember the play; I passed to [Andrew] Calof, he made a great play and faked his defender,” said Ambrosia. “It looked like he was going to shoot but he made a great pass to me and I was able to put it in.”

During January, Ambrosia put in some of his best play of the season as he was named the ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Month, tallying three goals and three assists in five games.

“That was the first stretch after I got injured,” said Ambrosia, who was bothered by an abdominal problem and was sidelined for a nine-game stretch from mid-
November into December.

“I was fortunate to have a string of games where our line had chemistry and I was able to score some.”

Ambrosia felt fortunate to get invited back to the Devils camp this summer.

“I was very grateful to attend again,” said Ambrosia, who scored a goal in one of the scrimmages at the camp.

“It was a little different this year because we had the whole NHL coaching staff there. They pass on what they have learned, having coached and played at the highest level. We learned the Devils philosophy and things like on and off ice training and nutrition.”

With Princeton coming off a 10-16-5 season in 2012-13 which saw the Tigers lose 2-0 to Cornell in the first round of the ECACH playoffs, Ambrosia believes the squad is poised to play at a higher level this year from beginning to end.

“The No. 1 goal is to win; every team has to build an identity through the season,” said Ambrosia.

“You want to be playing your best in the playoffs. The process starts in the fall. It comes down to hard work and execution. We have set some high goals; we believe in each other, from the coaches down. Last year we had some injuries but that is not an excuse. It is a long season and it is a grind. Teams get hot and cold. You want to stay pretty even keeled and consistently focus on getting better; that is the way to peak in the playoffs.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 26, 2013
HAPPY ENDING: Michael Franklin smiles as he crosses the finish line after taking fifth in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA championship meet in Eugene, Ore. earlier this month in the final race of his career with the Princeton University men’s track team. The finish earned Franklin, a Mendham N.J. native, first-team All-American honors. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

HAPPY ENDING: Michael Franklin smiles as he crosses the finish line after taking fifth in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA championship meet in Eugene, Ore. earlier this month in the final race of his career with the Princeton University men’s track team. The finish earned Franklin, a Mendham N.J. native, first-team All-American honors.
(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Michael Franklin’s first 10,000 meters race for the Princeton University men’s track team didn’t go very well.

“Coach [Steve] Dolan thought I could hang in there with a slow pace and maybe I could be around at the end,” said Franklin, referring to the 2010 Ivy League Outdoor Heptagonals competition that saw him place 21st of 24 runners. “They ran hard from the start and I quickly dropped off to the back of the pack.”

In the last 10,000 of his Princeton career, Franklin ended the race looking skyward in amazement after placing fifth at the NCAA championship meet in Eugene, Ore. earlier this month to earn first-team All-American honors.

“It was a bit of a surprise,” said Franklin, reflecting on his thoughts as he crossed the finish line.

“I was thinking about all the time spent training, the hard work, and the occasional setbacks, and how it all paid off.”

After a solid but unspectacular high school running career at Mendham (N.J.) High, Franklin had a tough time upon starting his Princeton career in the fall of 2009.

“I think the big adjustment for me was that I was the best guy on my high school team and now I was the 20th guy,” said Franklin. “I was anonymous, in the middle of the pack.”

Franklin did gain inspiration from the runners at the front of the Princeton pack.

“I was the small fish in the big pond but I was getting pushed to be faster by some phenomenal guys,” said Franklin, noting that he was influenced by such standouts as NCAA steeplechase champion Donn Cabral and All-American Brian Leung.

Franklin made gradual improvements as a sophomore and then experienced a major breakthrough when he qualified for the 5,000 in the NCAA outdoor regional meet last spring.

“I did a 14:35 5k as a freshman and a 14:20 5k as a sophomore; I was doing OK but far off from the 13:40s that other guys were doing,” said Franklin.

“As a junior, I did a 14:06 5k. My junior year was a bit of a jump. I had some good races and some bad races before that. I was inconsistent. Coach Dolan said it was time to get the bad races behind me. Every time I stepped to the starting line, I had to be ready for a solid race. It was big to be at the NCAA regionals. There was very tough competition.”

In getting ready for his senior year, Franklin had to show some mental toughness as he juggled a summer job with his training. “I had a 40 hour a week job down in Maryland,” said Franklin. “I did the training on my own but it was tough to run down there. I struggled to stay focused.”

Once he arrived at Princeton for his senior year, Franklin was able to focus more on his running. “I came into the fall in good shape but the summer training was a mental strain,” said Franklin.

“The biggest thing as a senior was that I had fewer distractions. I had done most of my school requirements and I was getting eight to nine hours of sleep a night as opposed to five or six. I had a job offer so that took away some stress.”

In a harbinger of things to come, Franklin made strides during the cross country season.

“I was racing a lot better in the fall,” said Franklin, who won the program’s most improved runner award for the 2012 campaign.

“I was 134th at the NCAAs, that was a great experience. We were 11th, our best finish there, I was consistently solid and the team really jelled.”

At the Indoor Heps, Franklin was better than solid as he took the title in the 5,000 meters.

“That was great, I was super happy about that,” said Franklin, who clocked a 14:18.64 time with teammate Chris Bendsten right behind at 14:18.72.

“It was a real breakthrough. I had a 3k at the Armory meet and I dropped my best by 10 seconds. I realized I could compete on this level. I did the 3k and the 5k at the Indoor Heps. I didn’t have a good run in the 3k. I came into the 5k more relaxed and had a great race. It was a little disappointing since we lost the team title by a point.”

In May, Franklin played a key role in helping the Tigers win the Outdoor Heps for the third straight year, placing first in both the 5,000 and 10,000.

“I personally had a great meet,” said Franklin, who literally dove across the finish line to win the 5k in a time of 14:10.85 and clocked a time of 29:46.77 in leading a 1-2-4-5 finish for Princeton in the 10k.

“Winning the 10k and 5k was more than I could have hoped for. We were sore about what happened at the Indoor Heps so it was great to win the team title.”

Keeping up his great form, Franklin placed fourth in the 10,000 at the NCAA East Regional to punch his ticket to Eugene.

“I had never made nationals; I was confident about making the top 12,” said Franklin.

“No one wants to take up the pace, it comes to control. There are a lot of people making moves and racheting it up when you need to. It was my first real experience with that and it went well.”

While Franklin was pulled in many directions between the regional and leaving for the national meet, he regained his sense of urgency upon arriving in Oregon.

“With reunions and graduation, it is distracting,” said Franklin. “We went out to Eugene on Monday. Getting out there and running on that famous track helped to get my head around the idea that this was it. I was looking to be in the top 8 which would be first team All-American.”

In order to achieve that goal, Franklin realized that he had to bide his time as the race unfolded.

“I knew that Lawi Lalang (of Arizona) was head and shoulders above the field and that if I ran his race, I would not do well,” said Franklin.

“I wanted to stay in the pack and isolate myself from the race and then pick up the pieces at the end.”

Franklin executed his plan brilliantly, running his fastest three laps in the final three laps, clocking a 1:08.17, 1:06.73 and closing with a 1:01.62 — the second-fastest lap of any of the competitors throughout the entire race.

“I didn’t know what the splits were; I wasn’t thinking I had to make a move at a certain point,” said Franklin, who clocked a final time of 29:42.34, just under 13 seconds behind Lalang’s winning time of 29:29.65. “I did pick up the pace a little, I moved up and just picked off guys.”

Franklin recorded Princeton’s best finish at the NCAAs in the 10k, as the program’s previous top finish in the event came from Joe LeMay, who took 8th at 30:05.19 in 1989.

“I really couldn’t be happier; I achieved more than the most ambitious goals that I set,” said Franklin, who noted that he trained 90-100 miles a week in March and was down to around 60-70 miles with increased speedwork down the stretch of the season.

“It took mental fortitude to stick to the race plan, there were a lot of good guys out there who made moves. Competing on the highest stage in college sports and representing Princeton means a lot to me.”

Over the rest of the summer, Franklin is looking to capitalize on his speed by competing in some 5,000 races and plans to keep running in some capacity for years to come.

“I see myself continuing in road races, half marathons and greater distances,” said Franklin, who will be working in software development for the Department of Defense at Fort Meade in Maryland.

“Up to this point racing has been such an important part of my life, I get a lot of enjoyment out of it.”

And Franklin certainly enjoyed running the race of his life in his final college appearance.

 

June 12, 2013
AUSTIN POWERS: Princeton University men’s track star ­Austin Hollimon heads to victory in the 400 hurdles this spring in the Ivy League Heptagonal Outdoor Track Championship. Last week, Hollimon wrapped up his stellar Princeton career by competing in the 400 hurdles and the 4x400 relay at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

AUSTIN POWERS: Princeton University men’s track star ­Austin Hollimon heads to victory in the 400 hurdles this spring in the Ivy League Heptagonal Outdoor Track Championship. Last week, Hollimon wrapped up his stellar Princeton career by competing in the 400 hurdles and the 4×400 relay at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore.
(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

While Austin Hollimon’s proficiency with musical notes in high school as a trombone player had him thinking about attending the Juilliard School of Music, a letter from a coach took his life in a new direction.

“Coming through high school, I was a classic trombonist,” said Hollimon, a native of Decatur, Ga.

“I studied with one of the best teachers in Atlanta; I had been playing since the fifth grade. I didn’t run track sophomore year. The coach at our school, Napoleon Cobb, who had trained Olympians, sent me a letter. He had seen me running in PE class and said I should come out for track because I could do amazing things.”

It didn’t take long for Hollimon to meet Cobb’s expectations. “My parents were skeptical, I did track my junior year and I ran under 48 seconds in the 400 meters,” said Hollimon.

“If you break 48 seconds in the 400 meters, you get on the radar of college programs. I had schools like Michigan, Georgia, and Georgia Tech reaching out to me.”

The Princeton University men’s track team reached out to Hollimon and he came to New Jersey in 2008.

“I was concerned; I was afraid I would come up here and get worse,” said Hollimon, reflecting on his freshman year at Princeton.

“I had seen superstars in high school who came to college and couldn’t match their PR. Mike Eddy, a 400 runner, was my gold standard for work ethic and getting better in the 400.”

Hollimon ended up winning a lot of gold medals for the Tigers, including six Ivy League Heptagonal titles and an NCAA indoor title in the distance medley relay this past winter. Last week, he culminated his Princeton career by competing in the 400 hurdles and the 4×400 relay at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore.

For Hollimon, getting better and better at track during his college years became a 24/7 enterprise.

“Track for me went from being an activity that I put a lot into, to being a passion that I was committed to,” said Hollimon.

“I wanted to learn the sport. I didn’t just want to work out my body, I studied the sport and I changed my diet.”

In early 2011, Hollimon produced a breakthrough that showed him he could hang with the best in the sport.

“I think in junior year when I ran a 46.4 and dropped my PR from a 46.8 in the very first meet of the season, that is the moment where I realized I could run with the best in the country,” said Hollimon. “All we had done was strength work with only a week of speed work.”

Over his Princeton career, Hollimon has drawn strength from competing on relays.

“I have never run 45 seconds in an open 400 but I always go 45 seconds in a relay,” said Hollimon, who ran the 400 leg for the NCAA champion DMR team.

“There is something powerful about running with your brothers. We were not expected to be able to compete on the national level and yet we won. Running an individual race is great but it is not as fulfilling as competing with your three brothers.”

During his junior year, Hollimon received another missive from coach Cobb which changed his individual focus to the 400 hurdles from the 400.

“Coach Cobb sent me another letter, these letters are serious,” said Hollimon with a laugh.

“In that letter, he said that in order for me to achieve that greatness, I had to be serious and come home and train with him. He thought that by pursuing the hurdles, I could end up being in the Olympics. It would require a return to home to purse this dream. My parents were not going to let me leave without graduating from Princeton My father asked the simple question, he said you have never run hurdles in your life, how is it that you are going to make it to the Olympics?”

Inspired by the example of Edwin Moses, who had never raced in the hurdles before 1976 but went on to win the Olympic gold medal that year in the Montreal Summer Games, Hollimon took two semesters off from school and went home to learn his new event.

“It came naturally; I did my first hurdles race at the Florida Relays and I ran a 50.6 even though I clipped the eight hurdle,” said Hollimon.

“Bershawn Jackson and Johnny Dutch were in the race and I finished third. It showed me that I have some ability to run that race. At the end of the day, if I made it, my life would be revolutionized. If I didn’t, I would be ready to do well at the college level.”

Hollimon ended up making the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials but suffered a setback as he hit a hurdle on his final turn in his opening heat and fell to end up in last place.

“The experience I had was a confidence builder,” asserted Hollimon. “I was right there; if I didn’t hit the seven hurdle I think I would have won that heat. Even though I fell on a national stage and had to deal with media questions in the toughest moment of my life, it was a good experience. I needed to show grace when they asked me how do you feel. I got an outpouring of support from friends and strangers.”

Upon returning to Princeton in January for his final semester, it took Hollimon a while to get up to speed.

“Things didn’t go as well as I had hoped,” said Hollimon. “It was very cold when I got back. I was trying to do some of the training stuff. I didn’t feel my body was responding. It was a challenge to go to class and do the things that college students have to do. I had gotten used to training all the time.”

Utilizing that training, Hollimon won the 400 hurdles at the Outdoor Heps and then went on to clock a time of 51.02 to win his heat at the NCAA East regional and qualify for the national championship meet.

“I was slightly concerned; in the open 400 at the Heps, I had the slowest time I have had in college,” said Hollimon.

“I ran a 48.1 when I was in the 45.6 range. I was confused. I was defending champion in 400 hurdles and I had a good performance. At the regionals, I had an even better time, I was feeling good about my race execution.”

While Hollimon didn’t execute as well as he hoped at the NCAA meet, placing eighth in his heat in 400 hurdles in 54.82 as he was hampered by the flu and then helping the 4×400 take seventh in its heat, his college experience has involved a lot more than success on the track.

“I like the perspective at Princeton; the athletes here are not glorified or deified,” said Hollimon.

“One of the great lessons is that character always counted more around campus than what I did on the track. Who I am is more important than what I do as an athlete. That is a wonderful lesson for me.

Hollimon is taking some important lessons with him as he leaves Princeton.

“I realize that they are teaching us here to teach ourselves,” said Hollimon, who will be taking part in Teach for America in Washington, D.C. as he trains for a shot at the 2016 Summer Olympics

“When I got into the 400 hurdles, I did film study. It is not just the physical; it is the mental, emotional, and spiritual. It is all encompassing.”

In hitting the right note as he shifted his focus to track at Princeton, Hollimon made his high school coach look like a prophet.

Last year, the Princeton University men’s heavyweight crew first varsity 8 just missed out on making the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) regatta.

The Tigers fell to Syracuse by less that a second for a place in the national championship race as they took fourth in the semis.

At the 2013 IRAs, the Tigers found themselves in a similar spot as they battled Stanford in the semis for third place and the last spot in the grand final.

Learning from last year’s disappointment, Princeton roared past the Cardinals in the last 500 meters and secured third by more than four seconds.

Princeton head coach Greg Hughes was proud of how his top boat responded when the chips were down.

“The semis at the IRAs are some of the most exciting racing at any level of rowing; there are nine or 10 boats fast enough to make the finals and only six spots,” said Hughes.

“We knew we were going to have a real race on our hands and we prepared for that kind of race. Both semis were tough; we were going against some of the Pac 12 boats. They knew each other. Our guys had never raced against them and were excited to test themselves. They rose to the occasion of the race. They really had a gutsy race.”

The Tiger second varsity 8 also took care of business in its semifinal, taking second in a tight race that saw the four top boats separated by 3.06 seconds.

“The 2V was in a really tight race and boats were close the whole way,” said Hughes.

“They were able to keep their spot. You learn a lot in those kind of races, going forward is a great experience.”

While Princeton’s top boats didn’t have the greatest races in the grand finals, they gained some valuable experience. The Tiger first varsity placed sixth while the second varsity finished fourth, missing bronze by 0.21 and silver by 0.83.

As for the first varsity, Hughes liked the way it competed. “Each race is different; we had a sense of how we could race against frontrunners,” said Hughes. “It didn’t play out that way. They rowed a tough, hard piece.”

The second varsity, for its part, left it all on the water. “The 2V had their best piece of the year,” said Hughes. “There were faster boats than us in the race. I wish they had been two tenths of a second faster and got a medal but I have no regrets and neither did they. They really executed everything they tried.”

In Hughes’ view, the execution across the board at the IRA regatta demonstrates progress.

“It was great to have two boats make the finals; last year we didn’t make any of the grand finals,” said Hughes.

“We have 13 rowers coming back from the top two boats so that is a good foundation going forward. They need to remember the things they did right and the things that they didn’t do right. They can’t stay the same.”

Hughes will always remember the role the seniors played in getting the program back on the right track.

“It was my most fun season in terms of boats being brave and taking risks,” said Hughes, whose varsity 8 featured seniors Michael Evans, Brian Wettach, and coxswain Keanan Clark.

“The seniors had a good long four years. The program is headed in the right direction. There was a different environment at the boathouse this year, the guys were excited to be there everyday and the credit for that goes to the seniors. The other guys get to come back and you never know what is going to happen. I would like to bring the seniors along with us.”

June 5, 2013
FINAL STATEMENT: The Princeton University women’s open crew varsity 8 powers to the finish in a race earlier this spring. Last weekend, the senior-laden boat ended the season on a high note, taking second in the grand final at the NCAA championship regatta held at the Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind. The boat’s performance helped Princeton take third overall in the team standings, trailing only champion Ohio State and runner-up California. (Photo Courtesy of PU Crew/Tom Nowak)

FINAL STATEMENT: The Princeton University women’s open crew varsity 8 powers to the finish in a race earlier this spring. Last weekend, the senior-laden boat ended the season on a high note, taking second in the grand final at the NCAA championship regatta held at the Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind. The boat’s performance helped Princeton take third overall in the team standings, trailing only champion Ohio State and runner-up California.
(Photo Courtesy of PU Crew/Tom Nowak)

While Lori Dauphiny was excited to see her Princeton University women’s open crew compete at the NCAA championship regatta last weekend, there was a tinge of sadness as the program’s seniors wrapped up their college careers.

“The senior class brought tremendous leadership, much of it by example, especially senior year,” said Princeton head coach Dauphiny, who is in her 17th year guiding the program and led the varsity 8 to national titles in 2006 and 2011.

“They had ups and downs and put issues aside and were united as a group. They decided they were going to lead and that started in the fall. I am really appreciative of what they did.”

That positive group dynamic paved the way to a superb performance at the NCAAs as Princeton took third in the team standings, trailing only champion Ohio State and runner-up California in the regatta held at the Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind.

“I am really proud of the team coming in third; we were the only Ivy team in the top 4,” said Dauphiny of the competition which included two varsity 8s and a varsity 4.

“That is something they had been shooting for. I am pleased with that; it just shows that everyone put something into the team being better, even those who were not there at the national championships. Even though not every boat was in the grand final, everyone performed at their best at the critical times.”

The senior-laden first varsity 8 performed well throughout the regatta. The top boat cruised to a win in its opening heat on Friday, topping runner-up UCLA by more than five seconds. In the semis a day later, Princeton encountered some rough water but finished in a strong second behind Ohio State, easily booking a place in Sunday’s grand final.

In the race for the gold, the Tigers didn’t waste any time showing their intentions as they led at the 500 and 1,000 meter marks. Cal made a move in the third 500 and edged ahead of Princeton. The Golden Bears were able to hold on for the win with a time of 6:21.43 over the 2,000-meter course, edging the Tigers by 1.17 seconds.

“It was awesome, it was courageous, it was bold,” said Dauphiny, reflecting on the grand final.

“I was extremely pleased and proud of them. It was hard to not come out in first but there is no doubt that it was their best race and they poured it out.”

Dauphiny acknowledged that she was taken aback by her top boat’s blazing start. “It was not our plan to be that far out,” said Dauphiny of her top boat which was spearheaded by a quartet of seniors in Gabby Cole, Molly Hamrick, Liz Hartwig, and Heidi Robbins and also included juniors Annie Prasad, Kelsey Reelick, Angie Gould, and Kathryn Irwin together with freshman Erin Reelick.

“We thought we could have a good first 500 and build on our base speed. It is not unusual for that boat to start like that. They notched it up a level.”

The second varsity (2V) had to take things up a notch in the semis as it edged Virginia at the finish line to take third and earn a spot in the grand final.

“The 2V had an amazing race,” said Dauphiny, reflecting on the semi which saw the Tigers clock a time of 6:55.26 with Virginia coming in at 6:55.52.

“It was dead level with an exchange of boats and no one boat really taking the lead. It was a photo finish and we were lucky we took that last stroke and got our bow ahead of Virginia.  That was their best race of the competition.”

In the grand final, the 2V faded to sixth, posting a time of 6:33.46, nearly six seconds behind champion Ohio State.

“They were disappointed but they did their best,” said Dauphiny, assessing the 2V’s final performance.

“It was the product of the dynamics of their race. They were on the edge on lane 1 and it was a challenge to not be in the middle. They did a nice job. They had a very difficult go at the Ivies. Bouncing back from that and turning it around going forward wasn’t easy.”

The varsity 4 had a tough time in its semifinal, missing third by an eyelash as Washington State edged the Tigers by 0.21. Princeton bounced back with a solid effort in the petite final as it took second behind Cal.

“The V4 needed another 10 meters,” said Dauphiny, reflecting on the semi. “They really poured it on in the last 300 meters. It was just not far enough for them. They were disappointed to be in the petite final but they had a good race.”

Dauphiny credits her Class of 2013 for pouring everything it had into their last weekend and hopes that effort will inspire those who follow.

“This senior class is really special,” said Dauphiny, noting that seniors Sarah Wiley and Astrid Wettstein competed in the 4 last weekend while the 2V included their classmate Sara Kushma.

“They are really going to be missed. It was a fantastic end. They gave everything they had. I am not sure what we are going to do without them. We have a good freshman class coming in but they haven’t done anything yet.”

MORSS CODE: Princeton University women’s lightweight rower Alex Morss competes in a race this spring. Last Sunday, senior star and captain Morss ended her Tiger career by helping the varsity 8 take fifth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

MORSS CODE: Princeton University women’s lightweight rower Alex Morss competes in a race this spring. Last Sunday, senior star and captain Morss ended her Tiger career by helping the varsity 8 take fifth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

With her family history, Alex Morss seemed destined to end up at Princeton University.

Both of her parents are Princeton alums along with her grandfather, an aunt, and an uncle.

But as a star soccer player and rower at the Groton School (Mass.), Morss had mixed feelings about following the family tradition. “Initially I didn’t want to look at Princeton because everyone had gone there,” said Morss.

Morss had a chance to attend Williams College where she could compete in both soccer and crew or she could come to Princeton and just do rowing.

“I visited Princeton and I realized that I would really like it,” said Rassam. “I really liked the lightweight crew coach Paul Rassam and the team.”

In the end, Morss added to her family legacy, deciding to attend Princeton and focus on rowing. Morss emerged as a star and captain for the Princeton lightweight program.

Last Sunday, she ended her Tiger career by helping the varsity 8 take fifth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif.

In reflecting on her Princeton years, Morss views her rowing experience as a major highlight.

“I think that the boathouse and crew had been one of the fantastic parts of my Princeton years,” said Morss, whose father Stephen, was a lightweight rower for the Tigers.

“I really enjoyed being in the 8. It is one thing to be fast on the erg (ergometer), it is another thing to have eight people working together, getting connected.”

Coming in as a freshman in 2009, Morss worked hard to make an impact. “They had given us summer workouts and I did everything,” recalled Morss.

“I was in pretty good shape when I got to Princeton. I felt like it was a pretty smooth transition.

Things went very smoothly in Morss’ sophomore year as the Tigers won the Eastern Sprints and placed second at the IRAs, narrowly losing to Stanford in the grand final.

“I learned how to scull that summer and having a complete year under my belt gave me a better idea of the college scene,” said Morss.

“We went to the Head of Charles and had a good race. The workouts were harder; the boat had a lot of speed. Winning sprints was so great. The great thing was the a day before the final someone had to leave the boat and we had a new lineup. We had one day to practice with the lineup. The seniors were such great leaders; they made sure that we still raced well.”

Morss’ junior campaign didn’t go so well as the Tigers underwent a rebuilding season, taking fifth in both the Eastern Sprints and the IRA regatta.

“That was really hard; I had an injury and was out most of the fall; another captain had an injury and was out most of the fall,” said Morss.

“We pretty much had to start over in the winter. The attitude and determination was there. It took a little time. We only had eight people but we were still pretty competitive. We kept getting faster, no one gave up. A lot of it was attitude, the season could have been a disaster. We only had three returners and we had a novice cox. We kept fighting.”

Last summer, Morss took her fighting spirit to the international stage as she competed at the U-23 World Championships in Trakai, Lithuania in the U.S. women’s lightweight single sculls.

“That was a lot of fun, I wasn’t even planning on trying out for the team,” said Morss, who placed 15th overall at the regatta.

“I was working in Princeton last summer and my high school coach said I should try out. I borrowed a single and I went to the trials. I was able to get a couple of weeks off from the lab to compete.”

While Morss would have preferred to finish higher at the U-23 competition, the experience proved to be great preparation for her final college campaign.

“It was competing at a whole new level,” said Morss. “You know the other teams in college and the boats aren’t so deep.  You see the top people in the world and you see how good they are and how hard you have to work.  I am so glad I did that and randomly went to the trials. I was motivated to get to a higher level. I saw how important technique is. People are pretty similar physically but good technique can save you seconds.”

As the team captain for Princeton this season, Morss tried to pass on her experience to her younger teammates.

“I thought about other captains and what worked and didn’t work for them,” said Morss.

“I am always someone who works hard. I am not loud, I try to set a good example. I wanted to work hard right from the start in the fall. I know people can get overwhelmed so I try to make sure that everyone is on the same page.”

The Tigers were on the same page this spring, opening the season with a win over perennial power Wisconsin and going on to finish second in the San Diego Crew Classic, third at the Invitational Lightweight Cup, and second at the Eastern Sprints before the fifth place finish in the national championship regatta.

“I could feel something but you never know until you race,” said Morss, reflecting on the boat’s progress this season.

“The improvement came over winter and on spring break. I think we are definitely improving. The starts have gotten better; we are working on all aspects of the race.”

As Morss leaves Prince
ton, she is not ready to stop racing. “I am going to keep rowing; I am going to the U-23 camp and I would like to be on a boat with others,” said Morss. “It got a little lonely last summer.”

No matter where Morss’ rowing takes her, she has certainly added a special chapter to her family’s Princeton tradition.

May 29, 2013
SWINGING SUCCESS: Princeton University women’s golfer Kelly Shon displays her form as she follows through on a shot. Last week, junior star Shon became the first Princeton player to compete at the NCAA women’s golf championship since Mary Moan did so in 1997. Shon fired a 10-over 298 to tie for 37th in the 126-player field, the best finish ever for an Ivy League player in event history.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

SWINGING SUCCESS: Princeton University women’s golfer Kelly Shon displays her form as she follows through on a shot. Last week, junior star Shon became the first Princeton player to compete at the NCAA women’s golf championship since Mary Moan did so in 1997. Shon fired a 10-over 298 to tie for 37th in the 126-player field, the best finish ever for an Ivy League player in event history. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Kelly Shon has become used to carrying the torch on the golf course this spring.

In late April, the Princeton University junior star won the Ivy League women’s individual crown after shooting a 2-over 218 through 54 holes at Trump National in Bedminster and then beating Harvard’s Christine Lin on the first playoff hole.

“I had gotten emotional from the team finish,” said Shon, noting that she become upset upon learning that the Tigers had lost the team title by one shot to Harvard.

“I decided I had to gather myself and play for the team. I wanted to come through for the team. It meant a lot to have teammates and friends out there and players from the other teams.”

Two weeks later, Shon placed second at the NCAA East Regional, firing a 7-under 219 at the Auburn University Club to become the first Ivy League player to clinch a berth in the NCAA women’s golf championship since Princeton’s Mary Moan did so in 1997.

Last week at the NCAA Championships at University of Georgia Golf Course, Shon represented Princeton and the league with class, tying for 37th, the best finish ever for an Ivy League player in event history.

But showing her competitive nature, Shon was disappointed with her 10-over performance.

“The whole tournament was frustrating,” said Shon, a native of Port Washington, N.Y. whose score of 76-72-76-74 — 298 put her in the top third of the 126-player field

“Even on the second day, I should have been under par, I made doubles on the two par 5s, that is not what I was looking for. I actually liked the course. The greens were undulating and tricky but there were putts to be made. Even up to the end, I couldn’t get the speed of the greens.”

In the end, though, Shon was thrilled to have had the chance to compete in the national tournament.

“I am so grateful and so humbled to have had the experience,” said Shon, who became the second Tiger to win Ivy Player of the Year honors, an award that came about in 2009 when Susannah Aboff ’09 won the award as the last Tiger to win the Ivy individual title.

“Not all that many Ivy League players have made it. I wanted to represent my school and the league; I put more pressure on myself. I wanted to show on national stage that the Ivy League has some great players.

Shon displayed greatness in qualifying for the NCAAs, catching fire on the back nine of the final round of the regional with birdies the 10th, 13th, 14th, and 16th holes as she booked her ticket to Georgia.

“All I could think of was playing for my teammates and coming through,” said Shon, who was playing in her third straight NCAA regional.

“The last round was weird. I wanted to play well and not let myself get in the way. On the front nine my head did get in the way. I made a stupid mistake on No. 9 when I came up short on an approach shot. I thought I have a lot of people rooting for me and this was not the time to get mad at myself. It really means something when you are able to make birdies and good shots in that situation.”

While playing golf at Princeton means dealing with a heavy academic commitment and less time on the course, Shon believes she has become a tougher competitor
through the experience.

“I think it may come as a shock to other golfers but my time at Princeton has helped me become a better golfer,” said Shon.

“I have learned more about the game and how to handle things that people at other schools don’t have to deal with. There are different pressures and we have limited time to practice. It has helped me to be on my own. I saw at the nationals that the other teams had a big entourage with assistant coaches, trainers, and others.”

Shon learned a lot about herself last October when she fired a three-over 147 to win the two-round Lehigh Invitational at the Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa.

“I think the victory at Lehigh in the fall showed a lot; that was an example of my process of maturing,” said Shon, whose heroics helped Princeton win the team title at the event.

“Coming down the stretch, I knew I needed to birdie that last hole. I had three really good shots to get a 3 on a four. I am not sure I could have done that earlier in my career. It showed mental tenacity.”

As Shon looks forward to her final season at Princeton, she is contemplating a pro golf career.

“I am not exactly positive; it would be cool to be play professionally,” said Shon, who will be looking to play in the U.S. Women’s Open, the U.S. Women’s Amateur, and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links tournaments this summer as she has in the last two years. “I would need to be playing well and be comfortable putting in all that time on my game.

While Shon has thrived as she has flied solo this spring, she knows she can’t do it alone.

“I am so grateful for all the support from teammates, alums, and Tiger families,” said Shon.

“It was a meaningful experience to bring Princeton to the national stage and show what Princeton women’s golf can do.”

HAMMING IT UP: Princeton University women’s open crew star Molly Hamrick pulls hard in a race this season. Senior tri-captain and stroke Hamrick will be looking to end her Princeton career on a high note as the Tigers compete in the 2013 NCAA championship regatta in Indianapolis, Ind. from May 30-June 1. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

HAMMING IT UP: Princeton University women’s open crew star Molly Hamrick pulls hard in a race this season. Senior tri-captain and stroke Hamrick will be looking to end her Princeton career on a high note as the Tigers compete in the 2013 NCAA championship regatta in Indianapolis, Ind. from May 30-June 1.
(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Competing at the 2012 NCAA championships at nearby Mercer Lake, Molly Hamrick and her teammates on the Princeton University women’s varsity open 8 were hoping for some home cooking.

Instead, Princeton ended the regatta burning with frustration as it placed fourth in the grand finals, finishing 7.18 seconds behind champion Virginia.

“It was disappointing, it was lackluster,” said Hamrick, reflecting on the 2012 NCAA competition.

“It gave us motivation for this season. It fired us up to work. We had to start working hard in the summer; we all kept in contact even though we were all over the country.

That hard work paid dividends earlier this month as the Tiger varsity 8 won the grand final at the Ivy Championships. Princeton clocked a time of 6:29.961 over the 2,000-meter course on Cooper River in Camden, N.J. with Yale second in 6:36.859 and Radcliffe taking third in 6:41.108.

“All seven other Ivies were absolute contenders; we had no expectations,” said senior stroke Hamrick.

“If we rowed our race and put together our best piece of the year, we could win and that is what we did.”

This weekend, Hamrick and the Tigers will be looking to put together some more good racing as they compete in the 2013 NCAA championship regatta in Indianapolis, Ind. from May 30-June 1.

Hamrick brings some championship experience to her final college regatta as she helped Princeton win the NCAA grand final in her sophomore season.

“I remember there were a lot of nerves and lot of excited energy,” said Hamrick, recalling the 2011 NCAAs.

“We knew that we needed to keep our cool and row our race. Cal made a move on us but we were able to hold them off. We were very excited for the seniors, they had worked so hard and seen such improvement.”

For Hamrick, a native of Tampa, Fla., an important step in her improvement as a rower came when she first competed for the U.S. junior national program.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Hamrick, who helped her Plant High crew win 2009 Florida state title and the Southeast Regional championship.

“I went to China after my sophomore year in high school. It was awesome to be surrounded by people who loved the sport as much as I did. It takes a lot, you spend your entire summer rowing and you are practicing three times a day.”

Hamrick also learned a lot about perseverance from the national experience.

“We came in third in China,” said Hamrick. “We were disappointed, we thought we could do better. We stayed in touch with each other over the year. We got the gold in Austria the next year. It showed when you set your mind to something and absolutely work as hard as you can, you can accomplish it.”

Applying that work ethic upon her arrival at Princeton in 2009, Hamrick moved up to the varsity 8 by the spring of her freshman year.

“Making the varsity boat was something I hoped to do as a freshman,” said Hamrick.

“I rowed in the 2V in the fall. Our captains Sarah Hendershot and Ariel Frost were great leaders, they took the freshmen under their wing and taught us about working hard, mental toughness, and perseverance.”

Now that Hamrick is a team captain along with classmates Heidi Robbins and Liz Hartwig, she is looking to emulate Hendershot and Frost.

It has caused me to always think about my actions and be a role model for the team,” said Hamrick, reflecting on being a captain. “It has great being captains with Liz and Heidi, we have helped each other.”

In Hamrick’s view, the senior class has helped the program collectively. “I think all eight seniors have a sense of urgency,” said Hamrick, whose classmates include Nicole Bielawski, Gabby Cole, Sarah Kushma, Astrid Wettstein, and Sarah Wiley in addition to Hartwig and Robbins.

“We want to make every stroke and every practice matter. There are eight different personalities but we all click. The team would not be where we are without the seniors.”

Now the team is hoping to build on its Ivy success as it competes in Indianapolis. “I think that win was definitely a confidence builder,” said Hamrick.

“We know that Indianapolis will be a new ballgame. We need to refine things, and never be taking off a stroke. We have to keep the positive mentality. We have to keep our cool, stay confident, and row our race. We are excited to get out there on the course and see where we stand.”

Hamrick, for her part, is excited to continue rowing after she graduates from Princeton.

“I have been doing this for eight years,” said Hamrick, who was recently chosen to take part in the USRowing Under 23 national team selection camp.

“I don’t see myself quitting any time soon. I want to see where this will play out. I see myself as a person who when challenged will happily accept that.”

THE TY THAT BINDS: Princeton University men’s lightweight rower Tyler Nase in action this spring. Senior star and captain Nase will be in his final competition for Princeton this weekend as the Tigers compete in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta slated for May 31-June 2 on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

THE TY THAT BINDS: Princeton University men’s lightweight rower Tyler Nase in action this spring. Senior star and captain Nase will be in his final competition for Princeton this weekend as the Tigers compete in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta slated for May 31-June 2 on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif.
(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

During the early days of his rowing career, Tyler Nase watched the movie Gladiator to get pumped up for competition.

“I used to do that a lot in high school,” said Nase, referring to viewing the Academy Award-winning epic as part of his pre-race routine. “We watched it as freshman 8 and we won our first race so it became a superstition.”

Utilizing a Gladiator-like mentality, Nase, a Phoenixville, Pa. native and star for the LaSalle College High School crew program, earned a spot in the U.S. junior national program.

“At the beginning of my junior year of high school, I did well in the indoor world championships, an ERG competition,” said Nase.

“I got invited to the national identification camp and then I made the training camp. We got a bronze medal; it was my first taste of international competition. I decided that I wanted to make the Olympics. It showed me how to train.”

This weekend, Nase, now a senior captain and star for the Princeton University men’s lightweight crew, will be going after another medal as the Tigers compete in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta slated for May 31-June 2 on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif.

Nase is looking to pass on his training mentality as he helps guide an inexperienced Princeton varsity eight.

“Being such a young team, I want to be really approachable and have them comfortable talking to me,” said Nase. “I like to talk less and do more. It is a sport where you get better on what you put out. I want to give them a glimpse of that.”

In his first two years with the Tiger lightweight program, Nase got a first-hand glimpse of what it takes to reach a higher level.

“I loved being in the freshman boat,” said Nase. “We had a good coach Glenn Ochal, he was training and competing internationally at the time and that was a great inspiration for us. It was the next step of training. In high school, I was aggressive and rough. I learned that you needed harmony with the stroke. It was great rowing with the seniors the next year. They showed what kind of framework you need to be really successful.”

Nase has continued to enjoy success on the national level, helping the U.S. lightweight 4 place seventh in the U-23 World Championships last July.

“I was on the team the previous summer so I had more experience under my belt for last year,” said Nase.

“We didn’t make the grand final but we won the petit final in a time that would have been second in the grand final so that was bittersweet. There were 20 boats that could win. I think I have become a smarter rower every time I have competed with the national team. I always take a lot from that.”

While Princeton lightweight varsity 8 was disappointed to place fifth at the Eastern Sprints earlier this month, Nase believes the top boat took a lot from that experience.

“The Sprints were pretty tough,” said Nase. “It was amazing to see Dartmouth take third after having lost to Cornell in the regular season. It just shows how tough our league is. I thought we raced really, really hard, we were definitely in it. We have six guys on the boat who never raced varsity before this year. It was a little different than the dual meets.”

The Tigers are hoping for a different result this weekend in Sacramento. “I think we will be better in the IRAs,” maintained Nase.

“I think we need to step back and not get caught up in things. We need to be a little more relaxed and just race better. We need to do a little better in the second half of the race. We were right there at 1,000 meters. I want to leave everything on the water, I don’t want to have any regrets.”

Nase isn’t ready to leave the water any time soon. “The whole Princeton rowing experience has made me the person I am; the coaching, the friendships, and the work,” said Nase.

“I have matured as a rower. I want to continue in the sport. I am going for the senior national team. I am going to Oklahoma City on June 6 to train there. I want to go to the 2016 Olympics and then in 2020.”

May 22, 2013
OPEN SEASON: Members of the Princeton University women’s open crew varsity 8 celebrate with head coach Lori Dauphiny, second from right, after winning their Grand Final at the Ivy League Championships regatta last Sunday on Cooper River in Camden, N.J. The varsity 8’s win earned the Tigers the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA championship regatta and helped Princeton win the Ivy team points title, which it took with an 81-74 edge over second-place Radcliffe. Princeton is next in action when it competes in the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis, Ind. from May 31-June 2.(Photo by Craig Sachson, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

OPEN SEASON: Members of the Princeton University women’s open crew varsity 8 celebrate with head coach Lori Dauphiny, second from right, after winning their Grand Final at the Ivy League Championships regatta last Sunday on Cooper River in Camden, N.J. The varsity 8’s win earned the Tigers the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA championship regatta and helped Princeton win the Ivy team points title, which it took with an 81-74 edge over second-place Radcliffe. Princeton is next in action when it competes in the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis, Ind. from May 31-June 2. (Photo by Craig Sachson, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Coming into the Ivy League Championships regatta last Sunday, Lori Dauphiny was certain that her Princeton University women’s open crew varsity 8 faced a dogfight.

“It was wide open, we talked about it as a team,” said Princeton head coach Dauphiny.

“It is one of the most difficult years to poll the varsity 8s, everyone has beaten everyone else. We knew going into that it was going to be very close, that is a testament to the speed in our league.”

But in the end, Princeton’s top boat had the speed to pull away to a convincing win in the Grand Final as it clocked a time of 6:29.961 over the 2,000-meter course on Cooper River in Camden, N.J. with Yale second in 6:36.859 and Radcliffe taking third in 6:41.108.

The varsity 8’s victory gave the Tigers the league’s automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA championship regatta and helped Princeton win the Ivy team points title, which it earned with an 81-74 edge over second-place Radcliffe.

Dauphiny was pleasantly surprised by her 1V’s margin of victory. “We had a good heat, we felt pretty good about the final race,” said Dauphiny, whose top boat clocked a time of 6:39.257 in winning its heat with Brown next in 6:48.499

“We felt good and we knew it was going to be close although it didn’t turn out to be that close. The conditions were a factor. We had a nice, solid start and that put us in a good place and we went from there.”

In Dauphiny’s view, her varsity boat was in a good place as it prepared for the Ivy regatta.

“We were improving, we had a good race against Michigan to end the regular season,” said Dauphiny, whose 1V posted a 12.5 second win over the Wolverines on May 4 and has now won two of the last three Ivy titles and 13 overall.

“We had some time between that race and the sprints and they kept working hard and getting better.”

Dauphiny credits her senior class with helping the Tigers get better and better.

“We knew going in that the senior class was going to be a big key and a critical component to our results,” asserted Dauphiny,  whose top boat included senior stalwarts Heidi Robbins, Molly Hamrick, Liz Hartwig, and Gabby Cole in addition to juniors Annie Prasad, Kelsey Reelick, Angie Gould, and Kathryn Irwin together with freshman Erin Reelick. “It is a strong class with a wealth of experience.”

The Tiger second varsity had a strong finish as it placed third but had hoped for more as it hadn’t lost all spring.

“It was actually heart-wrenching,” said Dauphiny, whose 2V came in at 6:47.010 with Brown first in 6:41.366 and Radcliffe second in 6:43.507.

“They were undefeated going in so they were torn up about getting third. They did their best and executed their plan. A factor was that the racing was going on in lanes five and six and they were a little far away in lane three.”

Princeton’s other victory in the Ivy regatta came from the third varsity 8 which topped runner-up Penn by nearly 13 seconds.

“They were also undefeated coming in and it was awesome to see them win their race,” said Dauphiny of the boat which posted a time of 7:09.964 with Penn second in 7:22.321.

“It was a mix of youth and experience. They had some adversity with injury and lineup changes and fought through.”

The varsity 4 earned a medal, taking third as it prepares for the NCAA regatta which includes the 1V, 2V, and V4 boats.

“The varsity 4 did a great job of getting a medal, dealing with some injuries and lineup changes,” added Dauphiny, whose top 4 covered the course in 7:48.427 with Brown first in 7:39.511 and Yale second in 7:43.215.

In Dauphiny’s view, her rowers did a great job across the board last weekend.

“The whole team really played a role in our win, every boat and every rower stepped up,” said Dauphiny, crediting new assistant coaches Kate Maxim and Steve Coppola with fostering a positive and competitive team atmosphere.

“They are really excited and super proud of what they accomplished. It took a lot of hard work and it was well fought.”

Princeton is excited about competing in the NCAA regatta in Indianapolis, Ind. from May 31-June 2. In 2012, the Tigers took fourth in the team standings and qualified each of its three boats to their respective grand finals.

“They need to continue to improve and work on their weaknesses,” said Dauphiny, who has guided the Tigers to every NCAA regatta since the inaugural meet in 1997 and whose varsity 8 won national titles in 2006 and 2011.

“They have to finish exams. We only have a few days after exams before we have to fly out to Indianapolis. The nationals is a whole new ballgame. There are many schools that look strong.”

HEAVY DUTY: The Princeton University men’s heavyweight first varsity 8 displays its form in a race earlier this spring. Last weekend, the first varsity took fourth in the Grand Final at the Eastern Sprints at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. The Tigers will wrap up their season by competing in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta slated for May 31-June 2 on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

HEAVY DUTY: The Princeton University men’s heavyweight first varsity 8 displays its form in a race earlier this spring. Last weekend, the first varsity took fourth in the Grand Final at the Eastern Sprints at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. The Tigers will wrap up their season by competing in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta slated for May 31-June 2 on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

Greg Hughes has been fine-tuning the training approach for his Princeton University men’s heavyweight rowers this spring.

“I would say there is a change in intensity, not volume,” said fourth-year head coach Hughes.

“There is more hard work, it has had a positive effect on confidence. They have seen how much they can gain from that.”

As the Tigers prepared to compete in the Eastern Sprints last weekend, they showed some good intensity.

“We had some really great work,” said Hughes. “We made a couple of changes to combination which were beneficial. We changed the race plan which also helped.”

The Princeton first varsity 8 raced well in its opening heat at the Sprints, clocking a time of 6:05.776 on the 2,000-meter course at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. to take second to Brown and qualify for the Grand Final.

“You always go to sprints looking to do well in the heats because it is one-off,” said Hughes.

“The sprint heats have provided some of the greatest races in rowing.

There is a lot of parity in the boats this year. There are 10 boats with the speed to make the finals and there are only six spots. We handled things well in the heat. We showed great intensity and focus. When you make changes, they don’t always stick on race day as the competitive juices take over.”

In the final, Princeton was competitive but ended up falling off the pace to take fourth in a race won by Harvard.

“We were in lane six and we were separated from lanes one-two-three where the racing was taking place,” said Hughes, whose team posted a time of 6:08.917, more than 12 seconds behind the Crimson.

“The train took off and we missed it. It was hard to pick up from there. We had good speed. We raced better.”

With the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta slated for May 31-June 2 on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif., Hughes believes his top boat is primed to race even better.

“We are looking forward to the IRAs,” said Hughes. “I like the attitude of the guys; they are all excited. We could have done better in the final but they have another chance.”

The Tiger second varsity 8 will be looking for a second chance at Brown after Princeton placed second to the Bears at the Sprints, suffering its first loss of the season.

“That was an awesome race,” asserted Hughes, whose 2V clocked a time of 6:09.690 to take second, nearly three seconds behind Brown.

“We had a race like that with Brown two weeks ago and we came out on top. This time, Brown came out on top. Princeton and Brown are two really fast boats and we are excited to get another chance to race against them. From my standpoint, I am bummed for them, I wanted to see them get the finish they wanted. They have had a really great season, I am really proud of them. They have a great attitude and they have been a great addition to the boathouse, they have fun with what they are doing.”

Princeton did earn gold in the fourth varsity race, beating runner-up Harvard by more than three seconds.

“The 4V had couple of seniors mixed in with some youngsters; it great to see those seniors end their rowing careers with a win,” said Hughes.

“One of our few walk-on novices [Doug Guyett] was on that boat, it was great to see how he progressed.”

In Hughes’ view, the progress he has seen from his rowers has resulted, in part, from a coaching group effort.

“A big part of this is the staff and the coaches that we have,” asserted Hughes.

“With the new freshman rule [which allows freshmen to compete on varsity boats], we have changed the way we split things up. Spencer Washburn was really a co-head coach. He gets a lion’s share of credit for the 2V. Our interns, Ian Silveira and Rob Munn, worked with 3V and 4V. What it shows is that it is great to have a staff. You need to bounce ideas off of each other.”

As Princeton gets ready for the IRAs, it won’t be changing its focus on hard work.

“We don’t have a lot of time; we’ll be flying out on Friday,” said Hughes.

“We will be doing a lot of the work that we have been doing. We are not doing anything fancy but we are on the right track. We just need slightly better execution.”