Our Leopards In South Africa Are Welcomed By The Maties and their Mascot Pokkel

A view of Stellenbosch University

Ok your first question I am sure is “what is a Pokkel.” Here’s what my research has discovered. Pokkel in Afrikaner ( a significant part of area where Stellenbosch University resides speaks Afrikaner) means chubby, and best I can discern it’s a bulldog. Stellenbosch   University, tonight’s opponent, is about one and one half hours from Capetown. It’s celebrating its centennial this year and has a student population of 31,639. Sixty three percent of its students are undergraduates with the opportunity to study in a variety of fields which to me look like its dominated by STEM majors. In that respect, as many of our field hockey players are STEM or Economics majors, there is a commonality.

Another of the many academic Buildings

By the way, their school color is Maroon which is another area of similarity. As part of its offering it sponsors 30 sports and has large athletic facilities adjacent to the school, including two astro-turf fields. It is a diverse institution 60 % white, 20 % Afrikan black, and the rest various other races and cultures. Classes are taught in Afrikan, English and other local dialects. The school has just instituted a language policy to insure that all native speaking students have access to an education.

A view of the athletic facilities

The sports programs are tiered to accommodate those who are casual week end athletes, and those who are more interested in intense high level competition. This will be a challenging game for our Leopards.

The team spent the earlier part of the day learning to surf. I have no information on the temperature of the water but they are all wearing shirts so I can assume its not like swimming in the 90 degree Persian Gulf.

Our ladies getting surfing lessons!!

As of early this morning the mystery of the lost hockey sticks was still active, as I have learned that their uniforms were also lost as well. However, they were hoping to have everything recovered by the this evening’s game which makes sense, since the flight they arrived on yesterday was a daily flight. Anyway, here’s hoping the Leopards arrive sartorially resplendent in their maroon uniforms armed with their more familiar hockey sticks.


addendum: 2-1 win in the books!!  No details yet. Thank you Maties for the contest and best of luck to you in the future!!

The 2018 Season Has Begun

Decked out appropriately in tour sweatshirts they head to baggage claim in Capetown

It may not be August and it may not be at Rappolt Field but the 2018 edition of Lafayette Field Hockey is in full swing. The Leopards arrived at Capetown airport after a 29 hour commute to begin their South African Tour. It is without a doubt an adventure that will have it’s benefits in team bonding, but it also has all the hallmarks of preparation for the 2018 campaign.

Our Leopards surround Virginia during a spring tournament.

The team did not just hop on a plane unprepared for the trip but they had spirited practices for the past week that was described by some as vigorous as any preseason preparation. The Leopards will play 3 games and have practice sessions as well. The spring has  been fruitful as the team had several tournaments which saw great progress in individual skill but more importantly we began to see the team work as a unit. By the time fall arrives this team will know where they and their teammates are on the field. The games in South Africa will solidify what has already been learned, and can be put into practice against international competition.


They should be on the cable car as I write this

But the next week will also be a time to bond as they experience new cultures and historical sights. After landing today they will go to Table Mountain on the cable car and they later have a clinic from one of the top club coaches.Tomorrow will be their first game and no doubt they will be anxious to shake off their jet lag and get down to business.

It’s smiles all around and they greet their fans at home via social media. Have a great time ladies we are all watching you albeit from thousands of miles away.

Addendum: I have heard the team’s sticks were left in London. Hopefully, they will be returned tomorrow in time for the game!! In the meantime they have borrowed sticks from a local club!!


Colburne Named Best Female Athlete

Ellen Colbourne and her parents

There are few athletes that make an indelible mark in their time and fewer who it can be seen as difficult to replace. Ellen Colbourne may be one of those athletes. When I asked several of the returning players for next year who will be the fastest player on the team they would say,  “Ellen of course…..but she won’t be back.”  ” I’m not sure who could replace her.” Ellen was the person every team would have to defend in order to beat the Leopards and it was her speed that characterized her play.



I can’t remember a game where Ellen was not factor at some point breaking out from the midfield as slower opponents struggled to keep up. You could see the joy in her face as she played the game. She confided in me that she would like to somehow stay in contact with the game that gave her so much pleasure. It would be a family trait since her grandmother still officiates in Ellen’s native Canada. Rumor has it she will be headed to Germany to continue her hockey career this summer.

Ellen applied herself in every endeavor at Lafayette including the Oaks Leadership Academy where she became a mentor of others. She has spent summers here at Lafayette giving tours, but will return to Canada after graduation to move on to even more success no doubt. She returns with a plethora of all-conference, and all-region awards and was named the best female athlete in the Lehigh Valley before her recent “Pardee”  success, taking home the Charles A Albert Award last Thursday. She is continues a long streak of Albert winners by field hockey athletes.

Ellen, you will be missed by this fan, and I hope you will not be a stranger. Best of luck in the future.

Theresa Delahanty Named To US Indoor Squad

Four Leopards named to Pennsylvania High Performance Team training squads

Liza Welch flips the ball over the Bucknell defenders stick

The Lafayette College Leopards will get a chance to demonstrate their skills, internationally and nationally by way of their selection to USA Field Hockey national squads. First, co-captain Theresa Delahanty was one of three nationally, to be selected to the senior squad after a tryout with Jun Cantwell, the national indoor coach. The National team will continue practices during the summer in anticipation of traveling during the new year for an international tournament against top European teams.

But Theresa was the not the only Leopard who will be playing on a national stage. Four Leopards including Delahanty have been selected to the High Performance Pennsylvania  training squad.

Corner defense and Sarah Park form a wall

They will vie to play in the Young Women’s National Championships at Spook Nook, the national training center for US Field Hockey. There will be selections to the Under 21 Squad, National Developmental Squad and the US Women’s National Team. That championship will be June 25-29. Asst Coach Sarah Dalrymple will be coaching the goal keepers for the Keystone State squad.

Grace Angelella gets low to block Boston’s advance

Aside from Delahanty the other selectees from Lafayette are Liza Welch, Sarah Park and Grace Angelella. All four of course will be traveling to South Africa in early June as the entire Lafayette squad will be on a playing tour in Africa leaving in late May.

The four figure to be key elements in Coach Stone’s plans this fall as they challenge for the Patriot League Championship and a slot in the NCAA national division one tournament.



Progress In Small Steps And Gestures


Lafayette faithful do travel well!!

It’s been over fifteen years since my wife and I first proposed building a proper field hockey field for the Lafayette College Field Hockey Team. Giving away money we found was not the easiest task, when at times it came in conflict with other perceived priorities. We had already given a six figure gift to fund the VAST program, a program devoted to melding STEM courses and the liberal arts.

When we first approached the college, the reaction from the highest level at the time was… why. “No one really goes to field hockey games,” was one retort. Another was ” We have other priorities.” Or there was the one, “No one wants an artificial turf field!” We persisted and in the interim, also endowed a chair in the neuroscience department.

The offensive corner battery

Today, all that is left of that philanthropy is the field hockey field. The VAST program has disappeared and there has not been a professor appointed to the chair we endowed for the last six years. Today, the field hockey team has won 3 Patriot League Championships, has been ranked as high as seventh in Division One nationally, and regularly its players are feted with all region, all American and best female athletes at Lafayette. Despite the ignorant utterances of that same official, the games now attracts between 200 and 400 people a game.

One facet of the facility that has always bothered me was the bathroom conveniences. I was assured at the outset, that there would be facilities. Yes there was, a single unisex bathroom that is required to service a crowd of up to 400 with the same thing in mind at half time and during tailgates. I have complained about it to no avail, despite the fact that funding was available for construction of additional facilities. Several years ago, a group of us got together to demand a change, and low and behold green port-a-potties appeared.

I was still not satisfied, and arranged for funding for portable bathroom trailers. The powers that be, refused to authorize the expenditure even though the funding was arranged. I can recall standing alongside a senior athletic administration official while pointing out the long lines outside the single toilet as he quipped, “maybe we could charge for use of the toilets.”

Three weeks ago my wife and I were delighted to meet with Sherryta Freeman the new athletic director at Lafayette. My ask was to allow for a new bathroom trailer in the upcoming field hockey season. Happily she agreed when I said I could raise the money, while Josh Azer Executive Director of the Maroon Club, listened and took notes. I have since talked with the athletic facilities manager and he is appraised and working to make it happen to be there before the first home game on Sept 7. With our guarantee and support, we will join the rest of the Patriot League with reasonable facilities. Embarrassed no more!!!

This whole saga may seem absurd, but illustrates the cement bureaucracies can get stuck into. Years ago we decided to concentrate our philanthropy to our living years to see its results. It has been  satisfying to see our wonderful team participate at high level division one hockey at Rappolt Field. We were disappointed to see the two other academic programs  we endowed of equal cost, fade away within 10 years of their inception.

I think Ms. Freeman will be a positive for the college and its students. This may be a small gesture, but based on our conversation three weeks ago and my perception of progress, we are encouraged.

An Ivy League Field Hockey Tournament

Audrey Sawers shadows a Harvard midfielder

The ancient eight may be trying to live up to their name by denying, for the last 24 years, an opportunity for the only exclusive women’s team sport, a post season championship. Forget that mens and women’s lacrosse have a tournament. Overlook that  basketball has a tournament. There seems to be no logic for the absence of a field hockey tournament for the Ivy League.

Every other conference has an established league post season competition. The Patriot League has a four team competition with the best four teams in the League held at the site of the regular season champion. The winner at the end gets the auto-bid to the NCAA national tournament.

Kristen Taylor gallops through the Columbia defense.

Recently a large majority of the Ivy coaches have been lobbying the League to include the Field Hockey programs in the post season. My information is that it is close to a unamious application by member schools. There are a variety of formats they could consider. The ACC includes everyone, and the Big Ten has a majority of the field hockey playing schools in the tournament for example..

There is a petition circulating, which at this moment has almost 1200 signatures from fans, coaches, alumni, former and current players, and parents. Tournaments can be the highlight of an experience that encompasses  a four year collegiate career. It could carry memories that last a lifetime as well as solidify a connection to the game.

Kyle DeSandes-Moyer, Penn ’13 and Head Coach of LIU writes, ” At Penn, I was given countless opportunities to play high level field hockey….but I also felt  cheated of an experience as a student athlete….As an alumna, I always want the team’s experience to be better than my own.”

It is astonishing that the Ivy League, that bastion of liberal education, is the last league to deny its female athletes what most athletes in the league and  other leagues have been experiencing for decades. I find little reason for rejecting it. Unlike basketball it would not be expensive to produce, has great support among its participants, and would be in line with the experience of other female student athletes. Only the most stubborn or selfish would reject this effort.

Anyone can sign this petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Ivy-league-field-hockey-tournament. The petition was started by  Penn alum Kyle DeSandes-Moyer. Help to grow the sport and support her in this campaign. It’s good for the Ivy League and more importantly it is even better for the sport!!