Those of you who are regular readers, or know me personally know, I am not one to mince words. The plain fact is Patriot League Coach of the Year Jennifer Stone as assembled a coaching staff that may prove out to be the best in the Patriot League. Earlier in the year she announced that Olympian and Captain of the Canadian National team Scott Tupper would join the Lafayette coaching staff. The arrival of Jenny Rizzo sends a clear message that Lafayette clearly has its sights sets on the next step in the program!! There is an emphatic communication to recruits and current players to be prepared to sacrifice and train, while they receive the excellent education Lafayette offers. Please don’t apply unless you are ready to make the commitment!!!
Rizzo graduated from Penn State after playing 79 games for the Lions in the cage. Her career save percentage was .749. She also played for the US U-19, U-21, and US development squad. She also was a member of the USFHA all academic squad with a major in Bio Behavioral Health. She is a twin to her brother Jack and calls Hersey her home.
Her 5400 minutes between the pipes at Penn State will be an asset in the development of Lafayette’s three goalkeepers. Frosh, Emma Garvey, Junior, Becca Herbert, and Junior, Hailey Abbott. In words to live by, she says, ” Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t do something. Only you can decide what you’re capable of.”
During last summer as schools struggled for the right strategy on college athletics, there was veiled criticism of the Patriot League as being Ivy followers, seemingly because it was perceived the League would follow the “Ancient Eight,” wherever they would go!! The exception was the service academies, who struck out on their own, citing that athletics was central to its educational mission and they would, as best as possible, carry on, playing full schedules.
Those who follow this blog know I favor the approach of the service academies and see competitive athletics as part of the educational offering and opportunities that schools like Lafayette should be committed to. As a senior officer in my company, I would always, all things being equal, favor the student athlete applicant over the applicant who led a more monastic existence at a college. A study executed by a faculty committee when Lafayette was considering adding athletic scholarships revealed, students athletes received higher paying job offers than non-student athletes. In fact, since the addition of scholarships, student athletes on average outperform non- student athletes in the classroom. I can’t think of any “under water basket weaving majors” at Lafayette.
The Patriot League broke with its Ivy League brethren ( wisely), and opted to return to competitive sports this winter and will offer a modified spring schedule for the fall sports and almost a full schedule of spring sports this semester, while returning most students to on campus living.
The Ivies on the other hand, have embraced a modified on campus living arrangement while many are at home enjoying the “University of Phoenix,” style of higher education. All the while, collecting hefty tuition fees and earnings on their 11 figure endowments. One member of the Yale community called the on-campus experience at Yale, “Yale Jail.” There are some who think the Ivy League will continue its stoppage of athletics into the fall, reckoning that the powers that be have already decided, but are afraid to admit it to its student and applicant populations.
In an article in the Wall Street Journal it is reported, “Athletes are in limbo. Sports are so important to some of them that they are unenrolling from their Ivy League schools to prolong their athletic eligibility.” The Ivy League has been reluctant to restart competition despite scientific evidence that indicates the biggest risks for viral transmission do not occur on the field. The Journal points out, that out of 357 division one men’s basketball teams, 347 are playing, the Ivies represent 8 of the 10 not playing.
Prominent Ivy alums are beginning to stir. Bob Warden who oversees private equity at Cerebus, stated, “The Ivy League should be on the forefront of developing ways to reopen…They certainly have the experts and money to make it happen.” Offers to help, at least monetarily, have been rebuffed.
Meanwhile, rosters for more than 23 Ivy League teams have contracted by at least one half. Women’s ice hockey at Harvard went from 24 to 3 players. One baseball coach told me he is down to 12 players, not enough to field a team this spring. Yale’s highly ranked men’s Lacrosse team went from 48 players to 8 this spring.
Again in the Journal article, Jack Starr, Yale’s lacrosse goalie said, ” Online learning is frustrating and tough. Zoom fatigue is real….. I didn’t want a shadow of Yale…I wanted the rich, unabridged version of the school I experienced the first two and a half years.”
In a recent study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison concluded that there has been nearly a 70% increase in serious mental depression in student athletes on the sidelines. I applaud the Patriot League for not being a “follower.” Do I wish the spring season ( especially) for field hockey was more robust?? Sure I do. But breaking from the supposed ” smartest people in the room,” was a right and brilliant decision.
Early on, I thought the schedule would look like the basketball schedule, playing multiple games against league opponents, but the logic of the schedule escapes me, since it saves little money, doesn’t really reduce travel, for everyone. and is not balanced.
The Lafayette schedule looks like this. March 14 Lehigh at Lafayette, March 21 BU at Lafayette, March 28 Lafayette at Holy Cross, April 4 American at Lafayette, April 11 Lafayette at Bucknell, April 18 Lafayette at American for the second time.
That works out to three home games and three away games. There is no game with Colgate, but two games with American. I focused on Lafayette’s two games with American, until I saw the rest of the League. Boston will be playing 4 games at home, two games with Colgate back to back in Boston, two games with Holy Cross, a big game at Lafayette, and finishing with Lehigh in Boston.
American will be playing Bucknell twice and Lafayette twice. Colgate will not be playing Lafayette or American, but play Bucknell twice, Holy Cross twice and Boston twice and has only two home games!!.
The bottom line is that Boston has the easiest schedule including the addition of 4 home games. How this saves significant money and travel for the League overall escapes me, but maybe I’m not smart enough to detect the logic. If that was the overall purpose, they should have pre-scheduled the Patriot League tournament at a centrally located site. Maybe that can be “arranged.”:)
The good news is WE ARE PLAYING, and overall I would rather have the tougher schedule than the easier schedule. With most games on Sunday, I am hopeful they will all be live streamed for us fans!! Additionally, I understand the NCAA will waive the minimum game requirements to allow for Covid and weather obstacles. It’s pretty clear…. all you have to do is win.
The entire team is returning to school, and conditioning will begin next week. The League has left open the posibility of fan attendance. I am recieving my first covid shot next week. ( I suppose the advantage of being ancient). So I should be ready for the season.
I wrote two days ago about the eclectic approach to having a Field Hockey season this spring. Little did I know how jumbled and difficult it would be. Field Hockey is primarily played in the Northeast, which was visited by a giant snowstorm over the last several days. With the season only several weeks away teams have been scrambling to find practice space. There are those who do have some sort of indoor turf facility but in almost every case it’s the wrong type of turf and they find practice times squeezed with Lacrosse, Baseball, Track and Field, and Soccer team vying for time.
In many cases clearing an outdoor field is an obstacle, as maintenance crews are busy cleaning the rest of the campus in preparation for students returning to school.
One Division One coach I talked to integrated her training schedule with clearing her field. The first hour warm up was started with handing out 25 shovels for an hour long exercise in clearing the snow covered fields. But that may be the least of the issues facing field hockey teams this spring.
The NCAA has declared that teams may not play more than 16 games in the regular season but must play at least 8 to be eligible for NCAA playoffs. That means the ACC, who did play last fall will have their schedules reduced in some cases. However, a school like Boston College could schedule games since they played a very limited number of games this fall. The difficulty is most conferences are only scheduling in conference games.
The Big Ten and Big East look to playing a full schedule by playing in conference opponents mulitple times. Other conferences, as of this writing, look to be playing a very limited schedules amongst their conference rivals. The NCAA championship final four will be played at UNC who as the conference champion of the ACC is hosting with other conference teams competing for 3 open at large slots.
The Patriot League will have an auto qualifier but in order to qualify must of have played 8 games. That works out to six regular season games and two Patriot League championship games!! There can be NO cancellations of regular season games or those two teams will not be able to qualify.
Lafayette has not published a schedule yet or explained how practices will proceed. With this past snow storm, and perhaps a snowstorm this weekend, it makes being ready for a game in one month, a coaching challenge. Hopefully, fitness can be taken care of prior to arrival. Putting together a squad without practice games and limited days of practice will be a challenge. But any activity this Covid season is a challenge!!
Additional Information On Schedules
The Patriot League will announce schedules tomorrow. Lafayette may be playing their first game against Lehigh on March 14!!
So, spring schedules are starting to leak out, and it looks like it will be “eclectic”. Some people may take that as a compliment, but for my purposes the synonym would be “jumbled.” For example we know the Patriot League spring season starts on March 7, the actual opponents will be named after the head of Patriot League goes into her “top secret” vault and releases it to ordinary people. We know the “regular” season closes on April 18 with the championship tournament to be played April 22-24, just in time for the NCAA tournament which is to start April 30 at an unnamed site, and the semi- final and final games to be held starting May 7 and to be played at UNC.
Ok, if you have that down, here’s the eclectic piece. The Big East and the Big Ten have announced their schedules. The Big East will begin play Feb. 26 and end (depending on the school) around April 14. Meaning they will start one week earlier, and end about one week earlier. Some of the schools will play out of conference games with regional opponents. ( Perhaps some ACC schools who did play last fall). In total, looks like they will try to play 14 games playing multiple games against the same opponent.
The Big Ten seems the most organized and forthcoming . They will start Feb.26 and end around April 17 with the Big Ten tournament to be played at Iowa on April 21. They will play an all Big Ten schedule with several games at neutral sites. For example, Maryland will play Michigan State on the 26h of February, Northwestern on the 28th, Ohio State on the 5th of March, followed by Northwestern again on the 7th, all to be played at Virginia Beach, Va. The total schedule is 14 games, playing Rutgers twice on the weekend starting April 15 at College Park.
The Ivy League of course is not playing at all in any sport!!
I am hoping that some fans will be allowed to be in the stands but at the very least, games should be live streamed. ( no promises).
Even the US Team is supposed to play FIH games in April but I could not find dates and venues at this writing..
It’s a season like no other, which I hope will not repeated anytime soon. How will coaches approach the season?? Will it be like an enhanced spring season?? I suspect when it gets to NCAA tournament time it will look and feel like any other championship!!
Maybe Lafayette could even host a first round game!! That would be memorable.There will be nine or ten teams getting an auto bid and 12 in the tournament. That probably means a bye for higher ranked teams in first round and play in games during the week.
My druthers would have been a larger Patriot schedule, (perhaps playing two games with each team in the conference). The only team that does not have its own field is American, so it could have been done. But beggars can’t be choosers. Let the games begin!!