As reporting day fast approaches, colleges, are beginning to form a policy position for student athletes who will soon be reporting for class. Athletes may be traveling to areas of the country where Covid is starting to surge, and public vaccinations are slowing. There is serious doubt that the US will soon approach herd immunity.
Most the of worry is with regard to variants, but if vaccinations were universal, the variant would not have a chance to emerge. There is good evidence that the two multi-shot vaccines ( Pfizer and Moderna) provide excellent protection against getting the virus and secondly, if you get it, prevents serious outbreaks.
It is in this environment schools are evaluating protocols for the fall. At a large state school the field hockey coach said to me that vaccinations are optional but unvaccinated student athletes must travel and live separately. Team meetings will be done virtually for those students as well. For all practical purposes the unvaccinated will not really be participating fully.
Harvard. Princeton and Yale have stipulated all students must be vaccinated by August 1, and provide evidence of that fact to the school. In the past week, that mandate has been extended to faculty and staff. At all three schools, vaccinations are provided on campus, but a student in residence can not move in without being fully vaccinated. Medical exceptions are granted as are religious reasons judged by a health committee.
In an email to all students, Lafayette College is requiring a completed copy of the Covid 19 vaccination card be submitted to their health portal by August 1, before they will allowed to move into residence halls. Those not in compliance risk their fall enrollment status. If the second dose is after August 1, students are asked to email covid-19.lafayette.edu/covid-19vaccinations. Exemption request were due yesterday July 21. Failure could jeopardize course selections and housing assignments.
Oddly, unlike the Ivies, faculty and staff vaccinations are not required. I think students should be aware of faculty who may not be immunized for their personal safety. Perhaps that will change in the future.
I have been vaccinated and I believe those who are able should be vaccinated for their own safety, the safety of the community and their own family.
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.
The fall schedule was posted on twitter but with a couple of changes needed. It was incorrectly reported that Lafayette will play 20 games. ( The article incorrectly reported the first two scrimmages with Delaware and Albany as official games). However here are schools and dates for games as reported.
The two scrimmages are Aug 19 and 22. Delaware will be away at 1pm and Albany at home reportedly at 2 pm. The first official game will be home August 27th with Hofstra @ 4pm, followed by an August home contest with Villanova on the 29th@ 3pm. Then, the following weekend will be the first two games away with Big Ten opponents, Ohio State on September 3rd @. 4pm and Indiana on September 5th @11 am. The Leopards will return home on September 10th to host Yale in a game under the lights @7 pm. They will then hop to a bus to travel to Quinipiac on Sept 12th for a 1 pm game.
The first Patriot League game will be with the likely Patriot League favorite American University in DC on September 18th @12 pm. The Leopards went to overtime in both games with American this past spring including a controversial call in the second game which led to a game winning stroke. The Patriot League schedule continues the following weekend at home against Holy Cross on September 25 @noon. Lafayette will stay at home for the next two games on October 2 and 3rd against Colgate @ 11 am and Fairfield @2pm respectively.
The next week the Leopards will again hit the road against Boston University on Oct 9th@ 12 pm and Brown Oct 10th @ 1 pm. The following friday, Oct 15th @7 pm will see the Nittany Lions of Penn State at Rappolt field, followed by Drexel on Sunday October 17 @ 1pm. The Patriot League schedule resumes with a game against arch rival Lehigh on Friday October 22nd in a game under the lights. @ 7pm. Temple will host the Leopards on Sunday Oct 24th @1 pm.
The Patriot League final regular season game will be marked by a visit by the spring league champion Bucknell on Oct 30th @12 pm quickly followed by a visit to Piscataway for a game with the fourth Big Ten rival Rutgers @2 pm.
This is an ambitious schedule which if successfully navigated could certainly lead to at least a top 20 ranking. A Patriot League championship by winning the Patriot League tournament would amount to an automatic slot in the NCAA national tournament.
One half of the Leopards had an intense spring game experience, the other half which includes a very talented freshman class will have not played a single division one game. The early games will be good experience and preparation for the latter part of the season. Audrey Sawers will be returning for her covid season bonus and should be a key leader on a team that saw each game played this spring to one goal margins as well as a number of overtime games.
American will return two for their bonus season and Lehigh will return two as well. Grace Angelella will be playing for Temple, a late season game as she will studying for a masters degree at the Philadelphia school. In addition, Teressa Delahanty a Lafayette graduate from several year ago will be a volunteer coach at Drexel.
NIL Starts To Kick In
Lehigh University softball player Carley Barjaktarovich has signed an endorsement deal with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the minor league team. The July 22 theme night will feature a paid appearance at the Iron Pigs game. Last Monday the Iron Pigs announced that she has signed an endorsement deal. The Iron Pigs say it is the first professional sport deal since the NCAA decision to allow college athletes to accept endorsements for the use of their name, image and likeness while still competing for their school. Terms were not disclosed. Under Pennsylvania law, schools and leagues cannot sanction college athletes for deals like this.
Meanwhile Erin Matson who plays for UNC has reported that she has signed a deal with Longstreath and other equipment companies for an undisclosed amount of money.
PS. I have just learned the game with Indiana will be at Ohio State in Columbus!!
It’s only six weeks away, as coaches are preparing for a “normal” fall, where they will be returning to seasons dealing with restructuring, and building their teams for a run at championships. Players, fans, and parents are trying to adjust fall schedules to be in attendance, to watch any number of sports. Student athletes will eventually be back to live classrooms and hopefully leaving the words like “zoom” behind them. In one and one half months bags will be packed and delivered to new dorm rooms. and college athletes will step on the field with their teammates. As the time approaches, all should all be increasing their off season training. Coach Stone believes in a fit squad, and quite logically the task of molding a squad that plays better as group than as individuals, can’t begin with a team more concerned about their next breath than their next pass, shot or defensive assignment.
The past year has brought new changes as well. Lafayette will have a new president who will no doubt have her own idea about structure. By all accounts she and her spouse are committed fans of college athletics, given their experiences at Notre Dame, Virginia and UNC. In the world of NCAA athletics, it’s interesting how change that was unneeded or unwise has force schools and institutions back to the middle. Many schools, who had tried to drop sports, have now reversed their decisions. William and Mary not only reversed their decision to drop sports, but fired their AD and hired new talent. Stanford, who only 9 months ago decided to drop field hockey altogether will welcome Roz Ellis as their new coach. The Ivy League lost the chance to retain seniors who were deprived of their final season. They will see their graduates play somewhere else. Juliana Tornetta having graduated from Princeton, as an all american and now a member of the US Team, will play at Maryland this year! The Patriot League is preparing to deal with NIL and perhaps they have finally given up their aspiration to be “Ivy Light.” The Ivy League certainly did not demonstrate any superiority of management last year. .
The NCAA is managing itself to irrelevance, as they seem stuck to managing minutia, as opposed to dealing with real problems. Their efforts seemed limited to changing small elements of the language in their regulations than addressing real problems.
Hopefully, Lafayette will emerge stronger, chastened by over zealous administration of rules, but keeping what is good. I expect athletics will emerge stronger as Intercollegiate Athletics gets new attention, starting with a change in the reporting structure. All indications seem to be moving in that direction.
I am ready to get down to the nitty gritty of fall competition. Lafayette will soon have on campus one of their most talented classes ever. Certainly it can be said individually, they can be as competitive with any team in the league. The question is repeated here, How will they mold together as a team?.
With many teams returning players for additional seasons, it will be challenging. Audrey Sawers the Lafayette captain, will be returning for her senior plus season and will be a threat to Patriot League foes. But Lehigh will return Lenke Havas and Drew Pecora, and American will return Noor Coenen and Gaby De Kock.
The League will be improved, and perhaps a better performance in out of conference games will get the League a better seed in the NCAA tournament. Bucknell’s performance in the national tournament certainly helped. Schedule’s are being finalized and Colgate already has reported a schedule that includes Albany in August. a late game with Syracuse. and two games with Cornell. Lafayette will host Colgate on Oct 2 at Rappolt Field. By my count, having reported only 15 games Colgate will have room for more games. There are reports that Lafayette will be playing Yale on Sept 10 also at Rappolt.
I will be interested in those early games and scrimmages, as experience must be gained. There will be 10 players for Lafayette who have never played in a Division one game. All manner of challenges, as the season approaches and certainly fodder for us fans!!
In a burst of sound logic Lafayette will allow a limited amount of spectators at outdoor venues. The process started when Pennsylvania announced it would allow 20 percent of a venue’s capacity to attend a gathering. For Field Hockey, the capacity in the stands at Rappolt Field is about 800 people meaning that 160 could attend, although there has been as many has 1700 people who attended an event there years ago. ( a lacrosse game in which Lafayette was actually nationally ranked against another ranked team).
In the announcement, the College announced that outdoor events scheduled for March 13 and beyond, would permit two guests per Leopard student athlete ( to accommodate parents of family members), families of coaches, and a limited number of Lafayette students in residence on campus, as long as the college is at level one operational level. This will not include parents and fans of opposing teams. Faculty and staff enrolled in the College’s weekly testing protocol will also be allowed in.
Invited guests are receiving instructions via email as this is being written, they must register and adhere to strict guidelines. Spectator guidelines include 13 points which include a self assessment, wearing of masks, practice six feet distancing, no tailgates, specific entry points, specific contact for invited guests, designated seating areas, no contact with players before, during or after the event, portable restrooms must be used, no concessions, mandatory notification if anyone exhibits Covid symptoms or test positive within 14 days after the event, and the consequences for not following the rules could result in suspension at future events, or complete shutdown of access to spectators in general.
In additional news, Ana Steps and Molly McAndrews are named to the first team All Patriot League team, while Lafayette is picked second in a poll of coaches and SID’s.
American is picked first in the preseason poll, Lafayette second, Boston third, Bucknell fourth, Lehigh fifth, Holy Cross six and Colgate seventh.
Pat Myers Head Lafayette Lacrosse Coach in a separate message, said, ” We continue to review options for alumni attendance as we move forward.” So we shall see!!
Lehigh v American Game Scheduled For Sunday Postponed Due To Covid Concerns
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!!!
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.
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.