Teammates On The Field, Friends Off The Field

I’ve written often about my support for team sports, and its relevance in the development and education of its participants. There is no deeper connection, except perhaps, the camaraderie on the battlefield, that engenders lifetime connections like competitive athletics. It is not just the hours spent during an intense competition, but the shared intensity of training that knits bonds that will last a lifetime. The life of an elite athlete, which is who these young Division One student-athletes are, is a shared experience. It melds into a community that can  last a lifetime.

I receive  from time to time, email from past and present field hockey Leopards, letting me know what they are up to and I thought I might share this with my readers ( with their permission).These are examples of how lifetime connections develop and flourish. It demonstrates  how those connections can continue not only after a completed season, but after graduation.

I suppose it all begins during the recruiting period. Official visits are usually timed to coincide with games and allows the prospective teammates to begin that lifetime bonding process, not only with their classmates but with the team with whom they will be spending training hours on and off the field. There is no group on campus  with which they will interact and depend on more than their teammates.

Several days ago I received an  email from junior forward Rosie Shanks as she was about to leave for the USA from her home in Scotland. She reflected on her wonderful time at home with family and friends. Rosie emphasized she has been training hard and recounted that in the games she played in at home, she had scored in every game. She opined on the different style of play, and how interesting it was to experience  both hockey cultures. Rosie used her time to also complete her level one coaching certification, while also coaching at her old Club, Clydesdale, with 120 children ranging from 5 to 15. She loves coaching and is considering becoming a coach after graduation, perhaps even coaching in the US.

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Rosie Shanks and Meg Lillis working together against Boston University with Coach Stone looking on.

The highlight of the summer was a visit with a friend in Paris who is studying art after which  Rosie traveled to Ireland to meet up with teammate Meg Lillis. The two had  adventures in Dublin and later returned returned to Scotland for a few days. Rosie was able to show Meg, Edinburgh and on another day Inveraray  Castle in Argyll before Meg had to rerun to Ireland to complete her internship.

Part of maturing and growing is to expand your connections. Those connections endure after leaving the playing field for the last time. Earlier in the summer I received an email from Megan Cicchi ’11 who was an all league and region all american at Lafayette graduating with a degree in Chemistry after only 3 1/2 years. She was obviously a terrific athlete, and given her intelligence and ambition destined for great things. Megan is working in her field and still is connecting to field hockey as a volunteer commissioner for her club team. Her brother is on the US under 21 team and recently selected for the US team. She has managed to stay connected with her teammates as well. Megan and Bridget Hilbig also a teammate and classmate from the class of ’10,  make it a point to go backpacking at least once year. At the time of her email, they were preparing for an 8 day trip to Iceland. Bridget recently received her PhD and one year of post-doc. and will start teaching at a small California college this fall.

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Megan Chicchi gets ready to score against Georgetown

Finally, the connections are made even to those who were not teammates. but share the experience of playing hockey at Lafayette. This fall, the current team and alumni shared a  moment to support Emily Goldman Garibaldi’07 and her husband Peter. Their two year old daughter had succumbed to a terminal illness. As Emily and Peter stood  surrounded by Emily’s teammates, one former teammate remarked how she had given her daughter the middle name Lucille, after Emily’s little girl.  Her short life was remembered in a dedication on October 24. It was a remarkable ceremony as current teammates and alumni teammates stood in support and dedicated a tree at the playing field they shared during their stay at Lafayette. The dedication reads, “In loving memory of Lucille Elizabeth Garibaldi, daughter of  Emily Goldman Garibaldi ’07 and Pete Garibaldi.” The message finishes,” The legacy is really the lives we touch, the inspiration we give.”

Those that say athletics is just about the game… are wrong!

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Lafayette Schedule Change Moves First Day of Preseason

Coach Stone released the final schedule recently with several changes from the spring temporary release. The most noticeable change was moving the first game from August 28th to 6pm on August 26th at Rappolt field. That move started a series of changes.The most important change was to move the first day of preseason to August 9th instead of August 11th. The earlier start gives the Leopards two days more of practice before the first scrimmage.

Given the large class the two day earlier start is welcomed by the Lafayette coaching staff to give them more time to assess and train the 2016 version of Leopard Field Hockey. This may be one of the earliest starts for the field hockey team in my memory.

The first game will be with Fairfield University, a former member of the Patriot League. They were the MAAC champions last year and played Patriot League champion Boston University in the NCAA first round game. Although they lost that game, they have a strong contingent returning. Fairfield also spent 9 days in May on a european tour after a strong spring season. They will be ready when they arrive from Connecticut on the 26th and will be bringing a good attitude and good skills to Easton.

The Leopards will need to be ready for that home opener and the preseason will be crucial to doing their best. So August 9th for all you Leopards who are working hard on your training regimen.

As for the rest of you fans check out the schedule on http://www.goleopards.com, as there are several other changes since spring release!!

Sarah Dalrymple Rounds Out Lafayette Field Hockey Staff

Sarah Dalrymple was scheduled to start on July first as Head Coach Stone’s addition to the Leopards coaching staff. She comes to the Hill after serving a two year stint at Hofstra where she was responsible for team practice organization, player development , recruiting evaluation, equipment and team travel operations and other administrative responsibilities. But it was her coaching skills that were put in operation early on as she worked Stone’s Total Hockey Field Hockey Camp last week.

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Rising freshmen Sam Di Maio and Sara Park getting instruction from camp coaches

The camp gave Dalrymple, current Lafayette players who worked the camp, as well as rising freshmen a chance to get to know one another. Sarah is a 2011 graduate from Temple and served as the team captain in her last season in 2010. She was the team defensive MVP and earned regional  all-american and all-conference honors in her senior year. She was a member of the US National Indoor team in 2012 and 2013 and a member of US National Developmental Squad in 2010 and 2011.

Before her time at Hofstra, Dalrymple was an assistant at Longwood where she served as acting head coach during the spring of 2012. The ebullient coach said when she saw that Stone was looking, she gave her a call that led to her eventual appointment. ” I was extremely excited to be joining a great program.”

I reminded her that she was player at Temple as an opponent. ” Yes those were all tough games. I remember particularly a 2-2 overtime game in which Temple fell,” she remarked. I reminded her that Temple had the best of the Leopards the year before 3-1. I then asked if it would be weird coaching against 3 teams she was associated with this year,since Temple, Longwood, and Hofstra appear on the Leopard schedule this year.  “Actually my first year at Longwood, Temple came down to play and we competed against my former teammates, however there is a now a new coach and new players. Much is the  same at Longwood, but I suppose I don’t have to spend the same amount of time looking at Hofstra  tapes,”she volunteered.

I asked if she would be responsible for the defense and goalies and she responded,” Yes, I will working with the goalies,but I  hope to be helpful all over the field. Few people know I was recruited as a field player at Temple. The summer before I arrived, I seriously broke my ankle. We only had one goalie and the coach asked me to be the second goalie. So yes, I volunteered!  By my junior season I was the starter and the rest is history.” Sara will have three goalies to work with, senior Kaitlyn Arnold, sophomore Gabrielle Ulery and freshman Sara Park. She has met all three and I can say they are all excited to work with her.

Coach Stone has said, “Sarah is an energetic, passionate, and driven coach, and we’re excited to welcome her to College Hill.”

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Several rising freshman Leopards take in all the instruction at camp

The team reports on August 11, less than one month from today and I have heard that many members of the team will arrive early staying at apartments of those living off campus to work out together without coaches prior to the official start. Sounds to me like the team is anxious to get going. Go Pards!!

Lafayette Field Hockey Campers Receive Advice On The Mental Aspects Of Being An Athlete

Coach Jennifer Stone who runs the Total Field Hockey Camp at Lafayette College had her student athlete campers trade the hockey turf for the classroom, for an hour on monday. The group of over 100 high school and rising college athletes marched into Oeschle Hall, the headquarters for the psychology and neuroscience departments at Lafayette, to hear Dr. Megan Cannon, a sport psychologist explain how to improve their mental health and  achieve peak performance as a student athlete. She works for Mind of the Athlete,  a sports psychology consulting firm. They consult with many schools including Lafayette to help foster an environment  of positive communication, encouragement, and cohesion to achieve success.

Dr. Cannon competed in swimming, softball and basketball as a youth, while also performing on the stage in ballet, jazz and tap dance from the age of three through college. She brought these experiences, along with her educational background to help today’s student athletes, deal with performance anxiety, nervousness, and many other obstacles to maximize performance on the field and in life.

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Current and future teammates listen attentively

One of the first tips was to suggest to athletes that they visualize their ideal performance, scoring that difficult goal, making a save, or the perfect pass. Visualization is important in all sports and help your mind and body to perform without conscious thought. She also discussed how to deal with bad play or mistakes and how to get over it. She introduced the idea of using a mantra to overcome nervousness and to even increase team unity.

Questions from the floor included the ideal amount of sleep required. Dr. Cannon reemphasized how important sleep was to be at you peak. ” Anyone who says they do not need sleep is lying,” she said. There was a question of naps and what was the ideal time for a nap. (26 minutes). There were suggestions to reduce pre-game anxiousness  by doing some rhythmic breathing.

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Applying what they learned on the field

Finally, she brought up the real case study of a student athlete. He was a wrestler at a major division one school and during his undefeated career won 136 straight matches. She attributed part of his success to his major….art. He would draw pictures of wrestlers in imagined holds. It was this exercise that helped him visualize his success on the mat. Dr Cannon then did an exercise where she had her audience draw themselves on the field doing a good play. Several shared their brief drawings with the assembled class.

The group left with additional tools to help deal with the pressures of being a student athlete and to perform their best on the field and in the classroom.

 

 

 

Lafayette Senior Leaders Set Themes For The Fall Season

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Amanda Madagan on her way to two goals in the Junior Pan Am games

It’s a little over one month before the team reports for the official preseason camp. In the meantime, the independent team camps are due to start. Open to all high school and college players, many of the rising first year players will take advantage of the extra instruction, while the veteran players and coaches will act as camp councilors and teachers.  In the meantime, captain’s practices will be in full swing as the melding of the team begins to take place.  All the players will have received a regimen from the strength and conditioning staff to make sure that on August 11th the team is ready to get on to the serious business of designing schemes and lineups.

Six days after reporting in August, the 2016 Leopards will travel to Rutgers for its first taste of collegiate competition, and 6 days after that Columbia will be the final tune up before the team will tackle the regular season with Fairfield University, on August 26 at 6pm at Rappolt Field.

Senior leadership is important as they will set the tone and help bring the team together, leading by example and encouragement. This is the first class in four years that has not experienced a championship in their previous three years and they will want to do everything possible to earn that championship ring.

I contacted two of those leaders several days ago and asked them to write to me and explain what this coming season means to them, and what the team must do to have a successful season. Amanda Magadan, a first team league selection who for the past  year has been playing for the US under 21 team was the leading goal scorer for the Leopards, and her skill is quite evident on the turf. Kaitlyn Arnold is not only a Phi Beta Kappa student but is also an all league performer in the goal for the Leopards. She had the most shutouts of any goalie in the league.

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Katelyn Arnold stands tall in the goal against Bucknell last year

Amanda wrote, ” If we want to be successful in the upcoming season, we need to work hard, be persistent, and believe! Our goals will be accomplished not by luck, but through our hard work on the field and our ability to learn from our mistakes. There is no doubt that as a team we will be faced with obstacles in the upcoming season. Maybe we are down 2-0 in the second half, but how will we react? Will our bench get louder? Our players sprint faster? Our choice to unite, believe and overcome the challenges in front of us will define our success. As a rising senior, I sincerely look forward to beginning our journey as a team and watching us grow and accomplish tons!”

Katilyn struck a similar theme in her response,” I think this can be a huge fall for us. We have a really strong group with a lot of talent. Even more than that , we’ve made huge strides as a program on developing out culture and I think that can pay dividends in the fall season. In the offseason, we’ve worked on creating an environment that breeds and encourages hard work. To be successful in the fall, we need to keep this environment as cornerstone of our team culture. If we work hard and play tough and with grit, I think we’ll be able to play with anyone.”

Along with their fellow seniors they will lead the team and will dare  their teammates to be a winner. Coach Stone remarked to me at the end of the spring season that this team didn’t want to leave the field after the last practice. The “journey” begins!!!