Barcelona Beaches Beckon

After an exciting and activity filled day on wednesday, our team gets some deserved rest and recreation, with what seems to be their favorite chill out destination …the beach. No doubt the rest was well earned, but our high energy cohort won’t let the grass grow beneath their feet. The sunny 80 degree weather joined with a bit of humidity  adds to the draw. But it won’t be lying around after lunch, as they will receive paddle surf lessons, after which they will tackle the warm Mediterranean surf. After some sun and fun, they will again have a chance to sample more Spanish cuisine with an atypical 6 pm dinner. Perhaps they will be thinking about tomorrow’s time to explore more of Barcelona on their own, and their next game with the Valles hockey club.

They will be reinforced tomorrow with two of their teammates, who will join them this weekend, while taking a break from their studies in Europe. I am sure they are emailing their friends and parents at home as well!!! I hope they are aware that the president of Lafayette College, Alison Byerly, sent her greetings to all after the game last night. As Lafayette’s first ex field hockey player president can attest, its hard to stay away from the game.

Tapas and Teamwork.. Arnold shows acrobatic skill in goal!! Birle and Turner score goals in 2-0 win!

The Leopards arrived in force in Barcelona after traveling on the 8th via  a long flight from JFK to Madrid. Jet lag was put aside as they met their tour manager Christian, in Madrid.They then grabbed some lunch, and drove to Barcleona where they finally arrived at their hotel. At five o’clock our intrepid team grabbed transportation to dinner. Christian, their loyal tour guide who plays in the Danish men’s field hockey league, made sure the team got to the restaurant on time. He set up a private dinner at a local restaurant, where the owner opened on his off night, exclusively for our crew. Present also were Jim and Tina Gula ( parents of Kelsey Gula’13), and the Furneaux’s. Jim Gula was kind enough to relay all the details. The owner served a multi-course taste of tapas, and Jim reported it was very well presented and tasty. After the dinner the owner played american hit music and the girls, the Gulas, the Furneauxs, Coach Jennifer Stone , assistant Coach Emily Janis, trainer Jon Edward, as well as Lafayette athletic business manager Dave Blasic hit the dance floor until everyone decided it was time to get some sleep. Today they are scheduled for a two hour tour of the Sagrada Familia before  changing this afternoon to start the hockey portion of the trip. At 6 pm they will have a light clinic with a Spanish coach before their 8pm match with ATHC after which there will be a tailgate with their opponents. Check back later at this site for the outcome and details of the match. Some additional news, today the Leopards also visited an institution that cares for special needs adults, and they played hockey with them to the delight of all.

The leopards in game uniforms at the stadium
The leopards in game uniforms at the stadium

Lafayette gets off to a good start with a 2-0 win tonight. Katie Birle opened the scoring in the second quarter by beating two defenders  to give the Leopards a 1-0 lead at the end of the half. In the third quarter Amy Turner added to the lead with an alert rebound of a shot. Ellen Colbourne was a threat especially in the second half and Amanda Magadan challenged the Spaniards defense all game. Hannah Millen was a wall at defense. In the opinion of the Gula’s who have not seen the team until tonight Katelyn Arnold was the star of the game with numerous acrobatic saves!! A great team effort!! Here below you will find a video of the venue and some excerpts from the game

And here is some video of the actual game with a nice shot by Amy Turner provided by the Gulas

Getting Ready for Spain

The activity at the Lafayette field hockey stadium looked more like mid-August, rather than the normal peaceful June setting that might have greeted visitors this afternoon. The Leopard field hockey team was hard at work with a double session meant to sharpen skills and enhance teamwork before leaving for Spain next week. Having finished spring practice a month ago, their skill showed little sign of atrophy as Coach Stone and assistant Coach Civico put the team through a brisk series of drills meant to get the team’s timing sharpened and their fundamentals reinforced.

Ami Turner heads toward the circle
Ami Turner heads toward the circle

The team entered the confines of Rappolt Field about ten minutes before the start of practice and began to warm up. Coach Jennifer Stone with her clipboard in hand, wasted little time, as her practice was structured to conform minute by minute to her written notes. She wasted no time with inactivity. These were all familiar veterans, who knew that every drill had a specified purpose to improve team performance. I was especially pleased, because for me, it was to chance to peek into the 2015 season 70 days early. The air was cool and the sky was cloudy, and that combination made the two hour practice that much more productive. Since there were no classes and studying to get in the way, it gave me an additional chance to interface with the two captains and their coaches. All were excited about the coming trip, and the upcoming season. I spoke first with Coaches Stone and Civico. Coach Stone said,” I see this as great opportunity to play some interesting teams  and see exciting hockey when the US team will be playing in Valencia. At the same time I would hope this becomes a great team bonding opportunity while seeing hockey played in a different cultural setting.” Coach Civico added, ” The additional time will help us become more consistent in our execution.”

Meg Lillis moves the ball upfield during practice
Meg Lillis moves the ball upfield during practice

I later had a 15 minute conversation with the two Lafayette captains, senior Hannah Millen and junior Amanda Magadan. Both these veterans participated in the US high performance program last year with Magadan being selected for the US under 21 team and the opportunity to play in Holland this spring. When asked what they expected to be gained from the trip Millen explained how the additional international experience would benefit the Leopards this season. Magadan focused on the bonding opportunities they were going to have while experiencing and an entirely different culture. After making that point, we focused on the coming season. I asked what the team needed to do better to be successful. Amanda focused on the need to understand their individual role and having the team play as a single efficient unit. Millen added, ” We need to be selfless on the field to reach our team goals.”

Noting that there were at least seven new players arriving this fall, I asked what advice they had for the new Leopards. Magadan advised, ” They should be prepared to work hard, and not be afraid to ask questions.” To emphasize that point, Millen added, ” They will need to be willing to learn….we are one team and we will practice together and play together as one team. We will be there for them to help them adjust to the rigor of college and division one hockey.” The captains explained there is a structure in place where the first year team members are paired with second year team members to make everyone feel welcome. In addition, Millen explained the team is split into “family groups” and during the preseason they will have friendly competitions related to fitness and other contests. As my time with these two leaders ended, we finished with a discussion of what happens during the time between the end of the Spain trip and preseason. They both explained most of the team will be playing in summer leagues, and there will be captain’s practices every Sunday to get the team used to playing with each other.  Both of these excellent student athletes showed their excitement and optimism for the coming season and a dedication to doing the best they can on the field. These are two excellent leaders who are finding their way to improving and making the Lafayette field hockey team into a cohesive unit. My next post will hopefully have news from Barcelona or Valencia with pictures from Spain!! For you parents going to Spain send me some pictures to include in the next blog!!

The 2015 Season Begins

Amanda Magadan steals the ball from Lehigh
Amanda Magadan steals the ball from Lehigh

The 2015 version of Lafayette College Field Hockey actually begins in Barcelona Spain on June the ninth. Before the team plays its first game however, the team will fine-tune their skills in Easton on their home field. The team recently completed their spring season and took time off while they completed their academic requirements. With final exams behind them the Leopards hit the turf four days before boarding a plane for their trans-atlantic flight.

Scramble for the ball
Scramble for the ball by Kirby Szalkowski

The NCAA allows a student athlete to experience a foreign trip once in a four year career and Lafayette Head Coach Jennifer Stone is making this a regular feature of the program. ” This a chance for our student athletes to experience another culture in the context of their sport as well as improve their skills,”according to Stone.

My next post will feature an interview with our two captains directly from the first practice on June 4.

As this is a new format for me, I encourage any comments or suggestions!!