Less Than Three Weeks Until Reporting Day

It’s less than three weeks until the Lafayette Field Hockey squad will report, to begin the rigorous preseason preparation for the fall 2021 season. I am sure the squad is doing all its pre season conditioning regimen, to be ready to assemble and play as a squad, pointing to a championship season.

The first test will occur on August 19, slightly less than a month from today, at one o’clock in Newark, Delaware, the home of the always competitive Delaware Blue Hens. Three days later it gets no easier when the University of Albany arrives at Rappolt Field at 2 pm to test the Leopards in a exhibition game. Five more days later the real fun begins at Rappolt, for a 4 pm game against an improving Hofstra team.

The period between August 10th and the 27th all the effort will be to mold a group of fine athletes and skilled hockey individuals into a team. The hope from the coaching staff is, that all will arrive in shape in order to spend the maximum time on learning to play with one another, and to allow a true evaluation of talent. It will be hot, and double sessions will tax the most earnest team member.

For we fans, it means we still have a little time to wait for some real competition. Meantime, as fans we look at schedules and rosters and try to handicap the season. There are still three Patriot League teams who need to post fall schedules and rosters. Colgate, American, Lehigh and Lafayette have done that, and it’s allowed this writer to start speculating on the coming season.

I still believe Lafayette has accumulated one the finest recruiting classes in the league, but they still need to be put to the test. The first Patriot League game is with American on September 18th at 11:00 am in Washington,DC. By then, American will have played VCU,Georgetown, Old Dominion, Delaware, William and Mary, Richmond and UMass. Lafayette’s schedule is no less daunting with Hofstra, Villanova, Ohio State, Indiana, Yale and Quinnipiac. Both teams will have had six competitive games under their belt to be prepared. Last spring the Leopards went to overtime in both games…..they have something they owe to American, for those two loses. A win in DC would be sweet!!!

The other two teams appear to have slightly easier schedules but no doubt both will be ready to play come their dates with Lafayette. Lehigh has been getting better and they seem to measure their success by their rival game. Oct 22 is another revenge date at 7pm in Bethlehem!!!

Meanwhile The NCAA Struggles

No one seems to like the NCAA these days, and they are making their lawyers rich in the process. They reported recently they spent nearly 68 million dollars on legal bills losing the Alston case in Supreme Court. Despite this the President, Mark Emmert continues on, having had his three million dollar contract renewed.

The large football playing schools seem to be ready to split off, on their own to be regulated by their individual conferences. NCAA seems all but conceded to a bifurcated structure where big time college football is its own animal. This will leave a regulatory structure overseeing basketball and the olympic sports at best. 

The NCAA has only itself to blame, as they left large regulatory problems behind, and contented themselves to be a harassing supervisor with an outdated 460 page rulebook.

What The Spring Field Hockey Schedule Is Morphing Into

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Most conferences sponsoring Field Hockey have now committed to play a spring version of a championship schedule. The NCAA has set a 12 team championship with 10 automatic qualifiers and 2 at large teams. However, we know that the Ivy League will not be playing and American West with Stanford who is dropping the sport after this season is in disarray. Aside from the fact there are only three teams from the West Coast where the virus is still raging, makes them doubtful participants. So there are 9 conferences playing, American East (6 teams), Atlantic 10 (8 teams), Big East (8 teams), Big Ten (9 teams), CAA (7 teams), Mid America ( 7), NEC ( 8 teams),and the Patriot League (7 teams). The ACC had a fall season with UNC taking the championship. It’s hard to believe that they will not play this season!! So that leaves 9 auto qualifiers and 3 at large teams according to my calculations. The NCAA championship semi- final and final games will be May 7th and 9th.

We know the Patriot League will be playing an in conference schedule using a round robin format with the top four going to the championship on April 22 and 24th. The first “regular” season game will be March 7th and the last game April 18th. The conferences for the most part are using a similar in conference round robin formats.

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The Big East is playing 12 games. They split the conference geographically, UConn and Providence, Quinnipiac and Providence, Liberty and ODU, and Temple and Villanova are playing against each other 4 times. Their first game is Feb 20th. The championship is at Villanova on April 22-24.

The rest seem to be going for the single round robin format with the CAA perhaps adding an out of conference game. It looks as though they will start on March the 19th. James Madison is reporting a first game on March the 19th with an out of conference game with Virginia on the 21st.

If that weren’t confusing enough, the NCAA is allowing players an extra year. That is fine for universities but does not fit an Ivy League or Patriot League pattern.

In any case, there will be a season….League Championships and a National Tournament.

How we look inside our league will be published soon!!! Students begin returning this week!! Go Pards!!!

Patriot League Announces Fall and Spring Schedule Play

A plan has been hatched by the Patriot League to play baseball, field hockey, men’s and women’s lacrosse, mens and women’s soccer, softball, and volleyball during the 2021 spring semester. The league will hold championships for men’s and women’s cross country, golf, outdoor track, swimming and tennis.

Scheduling, unfortunately for field hockey as well as football, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball will be limited to league only contests. The other sports may schedule non-league games at the individual school’s discretion. Detailed schedules will be announced at later date.

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Specifically, the League announced that the seven field hockey programs will play a six game League-only schedule beginning Sunday, March 7. The end of the regular season will be Sunday April 18. That will mean 7 weeks to play 6 games. The championship tournament will be on April 22, a Thursday, with the championship on the Saturday the 24th. The winner of course goes on the NCAA tournament.

To sum up, that means a possibility of 8 League games including the tournament and more if we were to go all the way to the NCAA tournament. We will just have to continue winning to keep playing. It is gong to be an intense season and season prep will be key. There is the integration of first year players as well roster and position adjustment at the get go. I also presume there will be no pre-season scrimmages. Certainly a coaching challenge!!

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Molly McAndrews eludes a VCU defender

Coach Stone wrote to the list of LCFH supporters, about the spring league only schedule. ” Our team remains eager, grateful, and excited to return to campus for the start of classes and prepare on February 8th. We know we have to remain smart, healthy and flexible.’

There is no word yet on fans, but I am sure it depends on local rules and. progress on Covid vaccinations. In Pennsylvania, it has been announced there is a goal for the general population to be well into vaccinations by spring.

Inside Lacrosse Magazine Details Spring Lacrosse For Patriot League

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!!

Most Of Division One Field Hockey Getting Ready For A Spring Start

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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.

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Hanna Lewis challenges Lehigh defender

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!

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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.

Bucknell….Isabella Pavlides NJ, Lindsey Fogelslanger Pa. ( sister a curent senior), Tullah Fuhs Co.

Colgate… Charlotte Hamilton NJ

Holy Cross..Molly Vinton Ma, Maddie O’Hare

Lafayette..Alex Darrah CT, Mackenzie Hall Ca

Lehigh…none reported

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!!

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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!!!

Catching Up On Field Hockey Events

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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

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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!

Griggs_Hannah_du_2087 Our student athletes are entitled and have earned that experience.

Go Pards!

Lafayette Goes Hybrid For The Spring

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.

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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.

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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!!

Let’s go Pards!!

Sources Report To CBS Patriot League To Start Basketball Jan 1

Jon Rothstein is a basketball insider for CBS sports since 2010 and a correspondent for WFAN and CBS sports radio. He reports that the league will not play its out of conference games and begin a non conference schedule on Jan 1. His information, he states, is from multiple sources.

I expect the desire to start was overwhelming to the minority who were not prepared to start play. There was no official announcement from the Patriot League office or Lafayette College/

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NCAA To Set Spring Championships For Fall Sports

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Within a week the NCAA will set the dates and format for fall sports moved to the spring season. Although there are other rules to be decided on as there are some schools like the ACC that are still trying to play this fall with no championships. Will they be be allowed to participate in a spring NCAA Championship. ( the answer is probably).

In any case, these are the proposed championship dates:

SPORT   OLD BRACKET. NEW BRCKET  AQ./at Large  DATES

Cross C        N/A.                255 per gender.   N/A          3/15/2021

Field Hockey  16                12                           10/2.        5/7-5/9/2021

Men’s Soccer.  48                36                           24/12.      5/13-5/17/21

Women’s Soc.  64                 48                          31/17.      5/13-5/17/21

W. Volleyball.  64                 48                           32/16.     4/23-4/25/21

It behooves the Patriot League to begin discussions on returning to the practice field. No doubt it depends on the course of the virus but recent results from many schools show good control of the virus on campus. Colgate, Bucknell, Boston University, Army, and Navy have universal testing and the results are encouraging with positive results at only 2/10 of one percent. Even at Lafayette, with a less aggressive testing protocol, have results well under one percent through the end of August.

What is happening is a disproportionate residency on campus’ between the schools. For example, Lehigh reports that 87 out of 89 football players are on campus participating in conditioning and limited drills. There are also a significant number of field hockey  players who were able to practice on the field according instagram photos this past weekend.

Lafayette players are certainly playing where they can, at clubs, who are operating and overseas it has been reported that our players are playing for their local club teams. I hope those players in country are busy honing their skills and fitness in preparation for a spring return.

So here is my plea to Lafayette, it looks to me like there will be a majority of Patriot League schools that will want to return this spring. NOW is not too early to begin formulating those plans. Their mission is to serve the student athlete and they deserve the chance to play. It’s time to get ready!!!

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Meanwhile, FIH is restarting its schedule and the US Team will soon start practice. Their first game will not occur until April at venues to be announced

The NCAA vs Power Five Football

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Mark Emmert president of the NCAA called off all NCAA fall championships, which left the FBS intact, the one the NCAA has made out of reach. Most of these schools are clinging with dogged determination to keep football playing this fall, along with other sports. Emmert climbed out of his bunker to declare the fall season over for most schools and set off a battle between the large power 5 schools and the rest of college athletics.

Emmert is clearly trying to pressure the remaining conferences to give in and play their championships in the spring. The remaining six football conferences are clearly up against the wall but it sets up a showdown between the NCAA who usually bows to the large conferences and all the rest of college athletics.

Sports Illustrated reports one Group of 5 AD said, ” Does the fall proceed with only six FBS conferences playing football and no one else doing anything.” The dynamic has changed this fall with many sports reaching less than 50% playing the many other sports and therefore triggering cancelling all fall championship tournaments. Is Karen Shelton at UNC going to be content to play 6 or 7 games and be ineligible to play for a national championship?

It was the Big Ten move and Pac 12 move that reduced the leverage of the remaining conferences. ” Among our frustrations with the NCAA is that they keep making announcements like this, without having first decided the myriad of associated issues involving eligibility, scholarship limits, competition season, roster size, etc ” said one Power 5 AD.  These are all legitimate issues and issues that have not been addressed by conferences like the Patriot League leaving many student athletes in limbo!!

The NCAA is not without fault neither is the Patriot League. These are important issues which ultimately go to credibility. IF THEY ARE SERIOUS ABOUT A SPRING SEASON ( THE LAST CHANCE FOR MANY ATHLETES TO PLAY THIS ACADEMIC YEAR ) THEY SHOULD BE SPENDING THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS SOLVING THESE PROBLEMS.

As many of you already know, I am not a great fan of the NCAA, for the main reason they have closed their eyes to the larger issues in college sports and chosen to encourage enforcement of a  plethora of ridiculous minor violations  ( like five dollar gift prohibitions to former athletes). The members schools of the NCAA have gone along with this and bear some responsibility for the current situation.

I do not believe the NCAA should go away, but be a better regulatory organization focusing on the “big stuff.” That takes engagement by the president’s of the colleges and universities. We should be returning to sport, not politics, power and egotism. We should be encouraging the lessons of athletics which are learned best on the playing field than in back room deals by interested combines. Sports has become entwined in other efforts recently, perhaps we all should take deep breath and decide how we get our student athletes back on the field! Full Stop!!