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!!
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.