February Is Showcase Time

While our current Leopards are hard at work toiling in their academic classes, and working with the strength and conditioning team, our coaches are deep into scouting for future team members. In recent years, the advent of showcasing tournaments during the winter have become a convenience for coaches to view young talent. For many programs, the recruiting class entering in 2017 is nearly complete however, now the recruiting effort  goes years into the future. I have heard of unsigned commitments extended even from high school freshmen in rare cases. Commitments for the incoming classes for 2018 and 19 is becoming more and more common. Lafayette is part of that process.

The february showcase, occurring in the warm climate of florida is sponsored by USA field hockey and features teams from clubs all around the country. Participating colleges fly down for the tournaments where they can get an early look at these young athletes. There is a representative from almost every Patriot League school at the February tournaments as well as the ACC, Big Ten, A-10, and as well as some division 2 and division 3 leagues.

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Rising senior defender Cody Hunsicker spies an open reciever

Recruiting for foreign athletes occurs this spring, as most of those athletes are just now showing interest for the fall. So it becomes a balancing act for coaches as they may have partially filled spots for the coming fall in anticipation of seeing a recruit from overseas that might fill a need. As each potential athlete vies for a coveted spot on a fall team, there is a myriad of paperwork to be completed before she can play. This  includes the student visa applications after qualifying with TOFEL tests, and SAT type exams.

Many fans do not realize that the finished product in August is the result of 2-3 years effort in recruiting to insure the best of the best are wearing the Maroon and White this fall.

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Rising senior Rosie Shanks breaks through American University defenses during overtime contest.

Although the school has not announced the fall schedule I can tease you by saying it will include a number of top 20 teams, including, I am led to believe, the reigning national champion. The schedule reflects Coach Stone’s faith in the skill of the team and the potential of the emerging freshmen class.

No doubt success comes with hard work as everyone else in the schedule is improving at the same time. It is less two month before the first spring games and I am looking forward to seeing how things are shaping up.

Amanda Magadan Travels The World For Field Hockey And Education

Amanda Magadan’s recent selection to the United States Women’s Field Hockey Team and her stint on the under 21 US team has allowed her to see the world. She has competed in the junior Pam Am Championships in Trinidad and Tobago, the World Cup in Chile, and in individual matches in Holland.  Amanda has also played against teams from Great Britain, Canada, Japan,India and Chile.

 

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Amanda Magadan attacks the circle during the Junior World Cup

She will be spending the spring semester traveling between Lafayette and the US training center in Lancaster, Pa. After graduation she will move full time to Lancaster preparing for games in South Africa and Pan Am games in Lancaster this summer.

Amanda has also traveled with her Lafayette team to Barcelona, Spain and acted as everyone’s interpreter since she is fluent in Spanish. Her coach, Jennifer Stone who does not give praise unearned, called Amanda perhaps the best field hockey player ever to wear the Lafayette uniform.

Amanda is the first Lafayette player to earn a spot on the national team signifying her as one of the best players in the country. ” After I ascertained that I would be offered a spot on the USWNT, I was filled with a mix emotions. It was both overwhelming and unexpected, yet exciting and rewarding. I am looking forward to playing and learning from such experience and elite athletes. I am honored to get this unique opportunity of a lifetime,” wrote Amanda.

Coach Stone said of Amanda,” Amanda is determined, a competitor, and has a contagious enthusiasm to relentlessly improve. Those are the reasons why I encouraged Amanda to start her path down the USA pipeline.”

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In Tanzania Amanda was able to observe a male lion with his pride

But it is not only on the field that Amanda excels, she is a regular on the all academic patriot league teams and a dean’s list student as an economics and psychology major. She has taken every opportunity to learn about the world from her studies and athletic career. She just returned from a Lafayette sponsored interim course in Tanzania. Amanda described  it as a “blast!” ” We were fortunate to have a face to face encounter with a male lion and his pride, observe mass amounts of wildlife roam, learn about the national and tribal cultures, visit various world heritage sites, and evaluate Tanzania’s suitability and conservation approaches through lectures and class discussions. Honestly, it was probably the most memorable trip of my international travels. We visited Arusha, Dar es Salam, Bagamoyo, and Zanzibar ( also known as Spice Island) all within a three week span. The educational component of the trip enhanced our experience by allowing us investigate the culture, economic status, and political structure of the country which made the trip enlightening and indelible. Our trip was complemented by one of kind safaris , shopping, spice tours, and snorkeling. It was the perfect way to start off the new year!”

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The great migration at the serengeti national park

Amanda Magadan a Leopard and citizen of the world!! Pride of Leopard Land!!

Students Return To Lafayette And Look To The Next Season

It’ll be eight months before the opening whistle of the 2017 season, but both  players and coaches are doing their best to prepare. It’s a new semester and our Lafayette Field Hockey stalwarts are already hard at work in the classroom. However, in a process dictated by the NCAA, our division one field hockey team will also be training with the staff of the strength and conditioning department to make sure they will be ready for the outdoor spring season slated to begin in late March.

 

No doubt they are working to improve skills as well using the indoor facilities of the Kirby Sports Center and perhaps even going out to Rappolt Field to take advantage of our unusually warm winter on the northeast coast. ( I am knocking on wood hoping it remains the same for the coming months).

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Adriana Pero and Liza Welch hard at work getting ready for last season

I did see in a tweet ,who I thought was Ellen Colbourne, at the US Naval Academy in a group for Patriot League leadership seminars. This is a great program sponsored by the Patriot League to encourage leadership by our student athletes.

For the coaches as well, it is a busy time as recruiting is going on unabated. Four have been signed in the early signing period last fall and the last signing period is in April where there will no doubt be several more recruits putting their name on the dotted line. There have been several who have already made visits to Easton to kick the tires, and we all look forward to the completed list of those who will be on the 2017 roster.

This week end has the men’s basketball in action at home, and we can always find our group cheering on the Leopards. Many of our basketball players were ballboys during the field hockey season and the team is always ready to return the favor with support.

As you can see I am anxious to see the beginning of the spring season, but I thought I’d keep in touch anyway.

 

Go Pards!!

 

Amanda Magadan Named To The US Women’s National Team

Amanda Magadan, the star all-american senior midfielder for the Lafayette Leopards, has been named to the US  National Women’s Field Hockey Team. She joins 26 other athletes on the squad who will compete in the FIH World League semi-finals in Johannesburg, South Africa July 18-23 and  in the Pam Am Cup Aug 18-27 in Lancaster,Pa. Having traded her Maroon and White uniform for the Red, White and Blue, it marks the first time a Lafayette female athlete has made the national team in her sport.

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Magadan scores as Van der Geest stands at the ready on an offensive corner against American

Amanda was a leader on the field scoring the most goals for her team from the mid-field position, a position she will be playing for the US squad. As of this writing I have not had a chance to contact her, but my congratulations to her on this outstanding accomplishment. She is only one of four named to the squad this year, signaling her as one of the top players in the country.

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Magadan attracts a lot of attention driving the ball up the field

What To Think About As A Snowbound Fan

The first snows in the northeast fell last night and it nudged my annual malaise into gear. The year is finally over and I guess I have to start thinking about next year. The athletes old and new have had their last practices. The seniors are thinking about jobs after graduation or continuing education in graduate school. Everyone else will be thinking about the return to campus and beginning of training for the next season. At Lafayette, the semester break is a month long but hopefully will be filled with playing and training. Some will be playing with club teams while others will be trying to stay fit and work off those Christmas and New Years pounds.

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As for the signed the recruits, they will soon be making an official visit and will be meeting their new teammates as a group for the first time. The coaches are still recruiting and preparing for  spring training and  contests. But what of us poor fans?? Yes, I have been looking at past recordings of games ( my favorite is the Boston University win), half pretending I haven’t watched  them numerous times before. The snow outside reminds me to look at them with the purpose of imagining what next year’s team will look like.

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There is a plethora a talent returning but I will miss this senior class. Looking at the Boston game I have marveled at Kate Arnold’s performance in the cage especially during the shootout, Amanda Magadan’s leap over the goalie and subsequent goal in the same shootout, Amy Turner’s gritty performance during regulation and overtime, and the joy as Aliza Furneaux pulled back and beat the Boston goalie at a difficult angle for the winning goal. All great memories.

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But I believe there are more memories to come. Our rising seniors have an abundance of talent and I expect our new juniors and sophomores will give me thrills, to match this year’s. There will be a new goalie in the cage next year, but she will be protected by a very solid defense. The midfield will have to add attacking midfielders to replace our seniors, but I am confident the talent is there. I look ahead to a forward line, healthy and productive. The most fun will be to see who unexpectedly rises to the top and provides us with plays that lead us to success on the field.

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The league is improving. Holy Cross announced their new class and discovered a Dutch connection for their incoming class to help their improving program. They will be anchored by their excellent goalkeeper who was discovered early last season on the ice hockey team. Lafayette has become their PL team to beat in the last two years. Next year they play us at home, I look forward to that game. Bucknell returns to Rappolt Field and those games are always tough, as we will need to beat Boston and American at their place. There is always Lehigh who is improved under their new coach and Colgate whose new coach will arrive on the Leopard turf for the first time.

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Coach Stone has promised we will see some new teams on the schedule as the non conference opponents remain top secret for the moment. Last years non conference foes included the national champion and many NCAA tournament participants. I am confident the new schedule will be just as exciting.

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Aside from the final spring signing day for our newest Leopards, the current team will have a full spring schedule. Saturday March 25th will be the alumni game which is looked forward to by every fan. That will be followed by a spring contest at Saint Joe’s on April 2nd, another with UPENN on April the 8th and the annual visit to Columbia on April the 23rd.

In the meantime it’s back to watching overly tall athletes in shorts try to get a large ball through a hoop suspended 11′ from the floor. April can’t be that far away can it??

Lafayette Seems Poised To Name New Football Coach

In a search which seems to have the intensity and interest, second only to the search for a new Lafayette president several years ago, things seems to be lining up for imminent announcement. In my association with the school, this has been the most organized and thorough search for a coach I can remember. The school has hired two consultants, one for the football search, and one to look at making the athletic program more competitive. There is no doubt, this has been key factor in this process. The announcement could come as early as tonight at 6 pm.

As you all know, this is a site that follows the field hockey team, which is the most successful program at Lafayette, and I believe could emerge as a strong contender next year in the Patriot League.I am assuming  recruiting fills some holes, and my confidence in the continued development of younger players this spring.

However, football, having been played for over 150 years at Lafayette, with the rivalry with Lehigh at its center, is a marquis sport. This search could be a clue to a new effort to improve the performance of the athletic program in general. At this writing  the rumor mill is in full swing, but it appears three finalists have made it thus far. There were two assistants from the Ivy League and one from a southern CAA school with both NFL and college experience in competition, according to strong rumors. It signals a seriousness of purpose, which will eventually leak into the other sports. Lafayette’s physical facilities are impressive and the using such tools as athletic scholarships should help Lafayette be competitive

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Returning rising seniors Ellen Colbourne and Cody Hunsicker move to cut off Albany attacker.

I am a strong believer in competitive sports and the inclusion of Division one sports at a school like Lafayette. It helps to attract exciting student athletes, who bring all their talents, and enhances the quality of the student experience, to say nothing of eventually adding to the quality of our alumni population.

A strong hire will signal to everyone that a successful athletic program is part of the vision for a good student experience. Being a division one student athlete is not for everyone, but for those that can handle a rigorous academic experience with an athletic program that has wining as its goal, can only enhance our attractiveness. This is a  message that will not be missed by our baseball, soccer and for sure, my favorite, our field hockey team!

The team is now in semester hiatus but hopefully they are continuing their physical training preparing for a return to campus and a brief indoor season and a spring competition schedule that will demonstrate how far we have come!

GO PARDS!!

Addendum: Published reports have John Garrett former OC at Richmond as the new head Coach. Coach Garrett is the brother of the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He has coached in the NFL spending five years with the Cowboys and additional years with other NFL teams. He is a graduate of Princeton. Welcome to Easton and Leopard land.

Lafayette Signs Four In Early Signing Period And Other News

The early signing period was several week ago and Coach Stone expects to announce the entire class after the spring signing day. Using social media and a little internet sleuthing here is our FAB FOUR early signees with some info I was able to glean about them.

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Sophie Carr shows her form

First up is Sophie Carr. Although her biography says she come from Dublin, Ireland she is actually a native of Pennsylvania. She caught Coach Stone’s eye at one of Lafayette’s camps and she was offered a chance to be a Leopard. Coach Stone sees her getting action as a defender and bring her skills that were honed on the pitch in Ireland. Welcome Sophie!!

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Grace Angella will see action at the midfield slot next fall

Second is Grace Angella from Harding,Pa. Her story is quite amazing coming from the Wyoming Area High School as an all-conference and all state selectee. But that is only part of the story. One of her assistant coaches is Brittany Blass a former all league and all american defender at Lafayette. According to the local paper, The Citizen’s Voice, Grace was tabbed as an up and coming field hockey player right from her middle school years and had been watched by several high profile division one teams. However Grace was found in her sophomore season to be suffering from a congenital condition called hip dysplasia which caused her great pain and subsequent injury. Many of the teams that showed early interest dropped away but Coach Stone kept close to the family. Grace decided to endure a five hour surgery at the Hospital of Special Surgery in New York. After 8 months of rehab she returned to the field and resumed her outstanding career. Her coach calls her “amazing.” When she returned to her team, her speed was intact and it was like she never had an injury. This was testament to her character and which happily, will be displayed on Rappolt Field next year as a probable midfielder. Her story can be found in the October 9 edition of the Citizen’s Voice.

The third signee is Greta Kullby from Lake Forest Illinois. Greta played on the state championship team and was an all state selectee. I am sure Greta’s highlight was the state championship game where she scored the tying goal and go ahead goal within two minutes of each other during the last four minutes of the game. We have video… she is number 17!! Greta could see action as a midfielder. We are hoping there are more exciting moments for her and the Leopards in the future!

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Eva Kaplan speeds past a defender

The fourth signee is Eva Kaplan from Montclair, N.J. who earned a 17-5 record during her senior year, and final record in group four of fifth and an all New Jersey ranking of 19. Eva is a prolific scorer finding the back of the net 17 times during her junior and senior seasons. In that final season she  had two hat tricks. In her entire career she scored 50 goals and 44 assists. The Leopard faithful will looking for more of the same as a Leopard midfielder.

Coach Stone feels she could be signing two more players this spring and at that time we will see the whole class. Despite her understandable reluctance to reveal clues, I  reminded her that “Orange” is quickly becoming my favorite color.  Isn’t that true Rosa and Lisa??

In the meantime in other news, Lafayette has engaged a consultant who will study the Lafayette Athletic program to see where and how we can improve our performance especially within the League. I can report they are already hard at work with an end date of April for a final report. The group is well known and have done studies for such programs as Maryland and Louisville. If I hear anything I will report it here.

Finally, in other Patriot League news, Colgate has named April Cornell to replace Cathy Foto as Head Coach whose contract was not renewed at the end of the season. Cornell comes from Hofstra where she was Associate Head Coach for the last seven years. She has 13 years of experience 11 years at Hofstra . She started in coaching at the University of New Hampshire. Coach Cornell played field hockey at the University of Connecticut and served as a volunteer coach for one year. She is a native of upstate New York growing up only one hour away from Colgate. Welcome to the Patriot League.

If I don’t get a chance, I wish everyone a wonderful and peaceful holiday season!!

Bill Rappolt