I believe we are closing in on normality as vaccinations become available. There will be more live classroom teaching, and even some college football, soccer and field hockey played to replace missed seasons. It has had an effect on everyone and quite frankly my wife and I have been experiencing a “ground hog day” everyday for the last 6. months.
It hasn’t been a totally non-productive period. I have been working on looking for a new training headquarters for US Field Hockey. There have been several meetings via zoom, with friends and even a 75th birthday party via zoom. Christmas was sort of a downer as my family is spread about the country,
However, Pam and I did welcome the newest addition to our house, Bailey, a lovable black lab. She is smart but mischievous, lovable but at times smothering, but most importantly she is a “covid puppy.” She has not had the opportunity to mix with many people, and does get anxious. Once she acquires an object ( a shoe, a pillow, or a TV remote), it became her’s. It was time for school!!!
I don’t often endorse anyone on these pages but we found a trainer who truly worked miracles. After giving us a free evaluation, she trained Bailey… and us to instill manners in this young pup. The trainer’s name is Nichole Finizio owner of More Than Manners Dog Training.
She arrived from her business site in North East Philadelphia and spent seven weeks with us and Bailey helping us cope with her Covid Puppy attitude. At the end, she now responds to commands, and is beginning to adjust to new situations. We are finally really enjoying our new family member and I believe she is a happier dog as well, since we now understand what she was saying to us.
So we finally know that there will be field hockey this Spring. The Patriot League let it be known to all, that fall sports will be played, albeit with strings attached. The seasons, will, for the most part be truncated by playing only Patriot League teams with overnight stays to be limited along with travel. The Patriot League is a multi state league so there is bound to be Patriot League, as well as state and local rules. In addition, I assume individual schools will have there own regulations.
As I watch our basketball teams play, it does gives some insight to how a spring field hockey season may play out. Even the play by play announcers, Gary Laubach and John Leone, at Lafayette, are broadcasting remotely from an RCN studio. In Boston, this weekend, both Colgate and Boston were wearing masks on and off the court. All League games had the bare minimum in attendance with cardboard cutouts in the stands ( available for a slight fee).
In Pennsylvania, and nationwide, governors and national leaders are struggling with the rollout of vaccines. Locally, in Pennsylvania we are on the brink of moving on to Phase 1B where the second level vaccinations will be administered. ( That would include those of us who are 75 years and older along with teachers and others). By March 7th I would expect vaccinations would be on the cusp of a universal availability. By April 24, the date of the championship, hopefully many of us will have been inoculated. But that’s all speculation. I note that the governor of New York allowed about 7,000 live fans at the site of the Bills/Colts football game yesterday!
Fortunately, we live in an age of streaming services and hopefully, parents and fans will be able at least see their favorite teams on TV. The Patriot League has announced a new partnership with ESPN plus to telecast games nationally, and Stadium Sports internationally.
I emailed AD Sherryta Freeman who has been leading her staff to make this opportunity to play a reality. What’s the fun of being an Athletic Director supervising zoom meetings??? I asked her about plans for televising all spring activities. I got this answer. ” Yes, we are making plans. Each League member is making every effort possible to broadcast its home events. I know that our Communications team has been working on Covid-related solutions throughout the pandemic for all return to play scenarios. So stay tuned as we to continue to navigate those details.”
So details matter, as Lafayette navigates practice and game schedules to give our charges the chance to play, and fans get a chance to watch them in action. So get your subscription to ESPN Plus or Stadium Sports, to be ready for a return to action!!
If former home and home league protocols apply, we will playing American, Boston and Lehigh at home and Colgate, Holy Cross, Bucknell away. The championship game will be played at the home of the winning regular season team, and any play in game to the NCAA tournament could be at Lafayette and any further games away.
The Patriot League has been meeting regularly and there does seem to be action according to an article written by Matt Kinnear of Inside Lacrosse magazine. The Patriot League has been silent, but confirmation of sorts has happened with the Naval Academy publishing it’s spring Lacrosse schedule for both men and women.
The template follows the basketball reopening by splitting into regional divisions with the exception that schools are free to schedule non-conference games if they wish. Play will start in early March with the establishment of two divisions. There will be a North and South Division with Army, Boston, Lafayette, Colgate, and Holy Cross in the North Division and American, Bucknell, Lehigh, Loyola and Navy in the South Division.
The men’s schedule will start March 6 play each Saturday until April 24. There will be crossover games with the other divisions. The patriot league tournament will be May 7 and 9 for the men. Several schools are determined to play some non-conference games. Inexplicably, with exception of Navy, member schools and the League have not made any announcements. The women start the same date and will play their conference championship May 6 and 8. Despite Army and Navy being in different divisions they will be continuing their rivalry with regular season games. I would hope the same respect would be given to Lafayette/Lehigh.
Internal logistics remain an undermined detail. At Lafayette for example if there is fall football played in the spring, where will practices be held and at what time??? It is rumored all teams will be back for conditioning practices Jan 14. We still await details.
There are no details about field hockey and as usual, a lid on any communication!!
For the past month, I’ve been feeling how the writers for the Jerry Seinfeld must have felt. How do you write about nothing?? So rather than wait for news, I thought I might pass on what I hear, not only about Lafayette and the Patriot League, but for the prospects of a Division One season this spring.
Most leagues seem determined to begin the season this April. The Big Ten, CAA, and others from my contacts with those programs are already beginning to shape schedules. Nearly all seem to be structuring their schedule as an all league schedule. ( except of course during the national playoffs). Since the ACC has already played for their championship, it will be interesting to see what they do.
The Ivy League will not be playing any sports at all this winter and spring, which will open another at large berth for the national playoffs. The Patriot League is playing its winter basketball schedule. Next week Lafayette basketball will open with two games with Lehigh. ( The second game on Sunday January 3rd, will be televised on CBS sports nationally). That schedule will be all in conference, while playing some teams 4 times and not playing others. Lafayette for example, will not be playing Holy Cross.
I suspect the spring will be similar for field hockey, perhaps playing each PL team twice, in a home and home schedule. The out of conference teams will have to wait for the post season to see Lafayette on their schedule. I think its obvious, rather than modifying schedules for safety from Covid, the schedules are constructed to save money!
Everyone who is a regular reader of this blog, knows my feelings on athletics and higher education. It is part of the experience for qualified and motivated student athletes. We are looking at the end of the Covid emergency, with the arrival of vaccines, so it is my belief the college should even dip into part of its 900 million dollar endowment to provide testing, and training personnel to make it possible for opening of all sports. It may be games without fans in the seats if appropriate, but seniors should not be allowed to miss their final season.
I feel the same about the academic experience, there is a disappointing 70 pct of the classes to be virtual. I support that all teachers should be vaccinated, but it’s not my call! Bucknell and Colgate have done a remarkable job in returning students to classes with very few if any Covid spikes. Perhaps they could share their knowledge. Yes, some of the reticence is in expensive testing, again I believe those schools with endowment are obliged to provide as close to a normal experience for returning students.
Now that I have irritated my friends on the Hill, back to field hockey!!
In the last week the PL president’s council met with a later meeting by the PL AD’s. My usual contacts and logic tell me there is significant enthusiasm to play spring and fall sports this spring. Certainly Army and Navy will play and have said so publicly. Bucknel and Colgate, since they had successful control and testing protocols will want to play and I hear that Lehigh will join. Though there is “some” sympathy for canceling the spring season at all the schools, it is my belief there will be a spring season and a spring season for fall sports.
In the meantime, PL field hockey coaches are struggling with blackout recruiting and cancellation of the field hockey festival. Even so, many recruits have sent commitments based on previous year’s recruiting. MaxSports has reported early commitments to the following PL schools:
American…Delia Rabatin from Va, Alexa Kratz from Pa
Boston University.. Michelle Prario. Ct, Ella Rottingaus Pa, Erin Little Ma, Tegan Poerio Pa., Katherine Devine Ma.
No doubt there will be more signing before the end of the school year and I’ll cover that when it occurs.
Most, if not all teams have been practicing. BU and Bucknell seems to have had everyone present this fall, while the others have had a partial appearance on the practice field. Lafayette has had six veterans on campus while several others have been playing in Europe and elsewhere. Lafayette’s new assistant coach ( Canadian national team captain Scott Tupper) has been working with those in residence.
I hope by April, as a spry 75 year old and my wife, will have had the vaccine and will be able to watch first hand, what I believe will Be a strong Lafayette squad in league play!!
In the meantime there will an important announcement soon on the establishment of a new National Team field hockey headquarters. I will cover that when the announcement occurs. I firmly believe with a new coach arriving from Australia and new training digs the US team will be in the hunt for a spot in the Paris Olympics!!
Addendum: Pennsylvania has stated that teachers and people over 65, among others, are in the first phase for vaccine innoculations. Surely that includes college teaching staff. I hope it means Lafayette can improve on the 70 percent online classes scheduled next semester,
Additionally, this winter, Lehigh does have a wrestling schedule, surely that hints at their determination to field teams this spring!!!
In a press release delivered last night, the Ivy League has decided to eliminate all winter sports but in the same release said that they will not play the fall sports in the spring. They still held out the possibility for spring sports to be played starting in March. They did not explain why field hockey could not played but lacrosse could be. However, some of the Ivy Schools have implemented an attendance schedule where only specific classes are allowed on campus eg. freshman and juniors this fall and sophomores and seniors in the spring. This would make it difficult to field full teams.
This has to be disappointing for many seniors who will miss their final season while others play. With the advent of a vaccine for Covid it makes it more likely athletes could play without significant health risks.
The Patriot League has left open the possibility to play fall sports this spring and the momentum and desire to play seems likely to make that happen. The only league to play has been the ACC. The other division one schools seem ready to play with a national championship to be played in April. Now there will certainly be three teams who will be invited to play via the at large route.
I am grateful that the Lafayette Athletic Administration has been working overtime with the other Patriot League administrators to present a scenario that makes the President’s council comfortable, if not anxious to open. Well done, for their hard work and I imagine great thanks will come from our hard working student athletes is in order!!!
There are now six field hockey players on campus and the whole team will be back along with the whole school in January!! Go Pards!!!
In a coordinated announcement at 9:29am the Patriot League along with its member institutions announced a plan to return to the courts and playing fields in the near future. Sherryta Freeman, Lafayette AD, followed with an email at 9:32 to alumni and others explaining the steps to put Lafayette Athletics back into competition with the rest of the collegiate athletic world. It was a welcome communication, as the outlines of the return of fall sports ( including field hockey) could begin for this spring. The only conference playing field hockey this fall, is the ACC, who completed its championship yesterday with UNC beating Louisville. UNC will get the ACC auto-bid for a spring national championship. Louisville is certainly worthy of consideration of the one of the at large bids.
Freeman stated in her email, “I’m excited to share some good news. Just a few moments ago, the Patriot League Council of Presidents announced that it endorsed a plan for a league only 2021 men’s and women’s basketball schedule beginning Saturday Jan 2.” Freeman added…forthcoming….
In addition, the council supported continued planning for competitive fall sports schedules during the spring semester under a variety of parameters.
She added, ” I am anxious and excited to see our teams compete again and build upon last year’s success. Achieving our goal of creating a championship culture remains our priority and we will be ready when competitions begin.”
The details for basketball are a little complicated and deserve study, as it may be a clue as to how field hockey will schedule this spring. In any case, it looks like Lafayette and the Patriot League are making sure all its schools will be eligible for NCAA tournaments.
The basketball schedule features a significant reduction in travel and restricts games to Patriot League opponents. No team will be permitted to fly to games. This sounds more like a cost saving measure as there does not appear to be any scientific data that would compromise health by flying or staying in hotels. There will still be travel but the League has split into three regional mini conferences with teams playing four games against each regional opponent. This will give the conference participants the 16 games necessary to qualify for the NCAA tournament. Eight of the ten teams will qualify for the Patriot League Tournament. The service academies are excempt from all provisions regarding out of conference play. The three divisions are North ( Army,Boston, Colgate, Holy Cross), Central (Bucknell, Lafayette, Lehigh), and South (American, Loyola,and Navy).
The result according to the schedule is that Lafayette will not play Holy Cross or Army, during the regular season, but will play Bucknell and Lehigh four times, and Boston, Loyola,American, Colgate and Navy twice. It must be my 75 years but the logic escapes me, but I’ll take it. Championships will be March 6,10 and March 14. Women’s Basketball is similar with championship games March 7, 11 and the 14th.
I could see a similar scheduling attempt for Field Hockey while playing each team twice in a season similar to the ACC’s already completed fall season. So that would mean 12 games and potentially two additional games in the championship. And then on to the NCAA with the auto bid.
Proving that Field Hockey can be played this fall, the ACC played the first part of their championship tournament following an abbreviated season playing each other.
In a game that may prove to be a classic, UNC defeated Syracuse in overtime 4-3 at Karen Shelton Stadium on the campus of UNC. The semi-final game set up the Tar Heels for their 23rd ACC championship game and fourth consecutive championship. It also marked Karen Shelton’s 701st win surpassing UCONN’s Nancy Steven’s all time wins as a coach.
However, it was not to be easy, as Angie Bradley’s charges from Syracuse attempted to knock off the the Tar Heels. It was Bradley’s 14th season at the helm and gave UNC all they could handle.
Syracuse’s goalkeeper Syd Taylor was up to the task as she came through with 6 saves until the final heartbreaker when Erin Mastson entered the circle and Taylor came out to meet her. Although it appeared Taylor was going for the ball her follow through tripped Matson and set up a penalty stroke, which was executed at 4:52 into the first overtime by Bryn Boylan.
UNC struck first at 3:08 with Boylan connecting on the penalty corner her first of two goals for the game. The lead was to stand up until early in the third quarter when Nieuwenhof from Syracuse evened the score at 1-1. Erin Matson from UNC, 18 minutes later was to put the Tar Hells ahead 2-1 which was followed by a Paitlyn Wirth shot and was to give the Tar Heels a 2 goal lead.
The Orange were not to be intimidated when, with less than nine minutes to go, Pleun Lemmers put Syracuse within one. Down by one goal and only 45 seconds left in regular time, Haile Bitter evened the score setting up overtime.
It was an entertaining game and season, disproving the assertion that Field Hockey could not be played this fall. The championship will be played between UNC and Louisville who broke UNC’s winning streak in October.The winner will get the automatic berth in the NCAA tournament this spring, and most certainly there will others from the ACC getting the available at large berths.
Although Lafayette has not played UNC for several years, last year Lafayette battled Syracuse, only to lose in overtime in New York.
The NCAA championship will consist of a smaller field, with the automatic berths to be filled with conference champions and two at large teams. The at large slots will probably be added to, with the Ivy League not playing spring sports.
The Patriot League and Lafayette should be playing this spring and I look forward to confirmation of that soon. Lafayette should not disappoint its student athletes, alumni and fans. I have to say the decision to play by the ACC make me envious. This week end would have been the Patriot League playoffs.
I look forward to a correct decision by Lafayette and Patriot League.
New Head Coach Named For U.S. Women’s National Team
After a long and exhaustive search USA Field Hockey, after sifting through an impressive list of qualified candidates, Simon Hoskins Executive Director announced the selection of Anthony Farry as the new U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach. Simon remarked, ” He has built a great track record of success and has a wealth of experience as a head coach that will serve him well as we all at USA Field Hockey work to achieve our mission of sustained international success.”
He comes after serving as the performance director and head coach of the Japan Women’s National Team, a role he’s held for three years. Farry was also asst coach of the Australian Women’s team in 2010. He was also was as an asst coach for the Canadian Men’s team before becoming the head coach. While in that role he coached Scott Tupper the newly hired Lafayette asst coach who is also the captain of the Canadian Men’s Team.
During a zoom meeting last night during a PM with me, Tupper had high praise for Farry and said it was a great hire for the US and attributed much of Canada’s success to him.
Lafayette Turf Talk
For the second time, Coach Jennifer Stone arranged for we parents, fans and alumni to stay connected to the program. Hosted by Kaitlyn Arnold, Lafayette alumna, former scholar athlete, and all league goal tender, gave everyone chance to meet Scott Tupper, the new asst coach, Eva Kaplan junior midfielder, and Audrey Sawers one of the team captains.
Coach Stone started the one hour meeting by stating the school has changed to a hybrid system and everyone will be on campus in the spring. This will enable the full team to be present and to perhaps have a spring season. Welcome news!
Katilyn who is the voice of Lafayette field hockey broadcasts, added to her credentials as a TV personality by adroitly introducing each guest, and was well prepared with interesting questions for us to absorb. We learned what it’s like for the five team members on campus, and Eva ran through her experience at home staying in shape and doing clinics for young athletes.
Scott spent time explaining his career, as Stone had prepared highlights of Scotts play for us to enjoy. His corner shots were like rockets. He is a defender at heart and credits hard work and perseverance for his success. Asked about the Leopards team, he is excited to see the team together. He has been working with the 5 team members in residence.
We learned his wife is a US citizen and comes from Lancaster,Pa. He brings a great work ethnic combined with a keen sense of humor, which should make future team practices interesting.
There Are College Teams Playing
The ACC is playing a fall season and did give this fan a chance to see live field hockey. Last weekend’s overtime game from Chapel Hill between UNC and Duke was a classic.
The ACC has been playing all fall, I hope the Patriot League will come to its senses and start scheduling for the spring!
Our student athletes are entitled and have earned that experience.
In a release to the Lafayette community, President Allison Byerly announced the plan for the spring semester. She reviewed the issues in the fall and how the college’s goals were met by limiting the population density on campus and by offering remote only learning. In a zoom meeting several weeks ago she revealed that 60-70 percent of the faculty wanted to return to normal teaching.
Byerly noted that many of our peers have been successful in bringing students back to campus, and offering some portion of in person classes. Bucknell, Lehigh, Colgate, Boston among others have been successful examples, along with West Point and Annapolis in the Patriot League.
She recognizes that bringing more students to campus presents greater challenges but believes the risks to be manageable. A return to campus by students would have to include significant increases in testing protocols and community commitment. She adds we cannot expect a disease-free environment, but with effort the Lafayette community can control the environment within manageable levels.
Lafayette did experience a minor spike in cases last week of seven, with six being asymptomatic. Further testing revealed three more asymptomatic testing, so far this week.
So all students will choose to study at home or come to campus. Those who are at home get a 10 pct discount on their tuition ( plus no room or board). Students must make their choice by Nov 2.
All faculty will choose whether to teach in the classroom or remotely. Some employees will choose to remain at home. There is an expectation that students will participate in testing and contact tracing. Students should not expect all activities and services normally available.
It was emphasized they are not promising a normal semester. So it is uncertain still, about the future of sports. The NCAA has set a calendar for the return of basketball and the playing of fall sports in the spring. The ACC is playing a full calendar of games including field hockey this fall. There several conferences that have already announced plans for spring field hockey. I have heard rumored that at least two Ivy League schools will not play this spring ( Harvard, Princeton and perhaps Yale). There may be five Ivy League schools playing.
It appears that there is a majority in the Patriot League who want to return to sports this winter and spring ( Army, Navy, Holy Cross, Colgate, Lehigh and Bucknell and perhaps BU). It has been pointed out, that there are state impediments for Holy Cross and BU, but Boston College has been able to navigate those obstacles as an ACC member.
The above announcements makes it more likely but not a certainty that Lafayette will return to athletic competition. I see no impediment for a fanless basketball season, since student don’t return until mid to late January. Outside sports to me are a no brainer, field hockey, golf, soccer, tennis and even Lacrosse and Football could be played, given the low risk to the participants in that age group.
I note that the ACC has managed to play without major incident and Army and Navy have not had infection problems with contact from other schools. I would hope and encourage that an announcement on sports in the very near future is promulgated, anything less would be a major disappointment, demonstrating a lack of commitment and leadership. Not to say a fiscal and strategic mistake!!
We have now reached what would have been mid-season for collegiate field hockey. High Schools have begun to play, collegiate players are playing pick up games in private turf fields and the NCAA has outlined a plan for a spring season for division one field hockey and an NCAA championship. We cannot forget there is one division one conference playing, the ACC, who has had two weekends under their belt without incident.
I also note that infection rates are significantly below one percent and in the Patriot League in particular the majority of reporting schools are showing infection rates below 1/4 of one percent. In the case of Bucknell for the last two weeks their have been no new cases of Covid 19. In the case of Lehigh, there has been a contact alarm ( with non athletes) that led the Mountain Hawks to suspend athletic practices already in progress. They are expected to resume by next week without any reported infections by athletes. Army and Navy of course continue to play all sports without incident!
Patriot League schools have reported executing from 150,000 ( Boston), to 27,000, (Bucknell), 7,000 ( Holy Cross and Lehigh), to 1400 (Lafayette) tests. Lafayette reports under 1/2 of one percent infections. No school that I can see has reported any fatalities.
The Patriot League president’s council has met several times under chair President Byerly without an announcement, even for basketball season. There has been one report from a competent reporter at CBS sports that the proposal on the table is to play basketball only within the League starting Jan 1, eliminating all non-conference games.
President Byerly has promised through multiple town halls and multiple zoom meetings to have definitive answers by Oct 20 regarding the second semester, presumably including sports.
Virtually every Conference has agreed with the NCAA plans for the spring which in include a spring season for field hockey. I assume Army, Navy, Lehigh, Bucknell, Boston and even Holy Cross are for spring sports. To me, that means a sure majority for spring season for fall sports. What does that mean for Lafayette?
Given the known infection rates and the inclination of our Patriot League cohort, I see great danger for Lafayette not to at least prepare for a spring season. It appears that the Ivy League will not have that spring season because they are not returning all four classes. Not the case for the Patriot League. Not returning all classes could expose a Lafayette inability or unwillingness to deal with the virus like the rest of Patriot League. Ivy envy in this case would not serve Lafayette’s interest for athletics or its general student population today and in the future.
If the Patriot League were to dictate no sports for the remainder of the year the League would certainly risk the loss of the service academies……a disaster by any measure.
So I come to the conclusion that the League and Lafayette should plan to open and allow practices, plans can always be changed but be prepared!!! As for our team, they are already practicing at Spooky Nook, the Proving Grounds, clubs in other cities, and European Clubs. Why we can’t bring our team back to live, learn and practice escapes me!
President Byerly Submits Resignation
As I was typing this I received an email that President Byerly has submitted her resignation effective at the end of her contract year, this coming June.