What The Spring Field Hockey Schedule Is Morphing Into

_big_a21LAF_6115

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.

_big_a16DO2F2756

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!!!

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

_big_a21DO2F9577-1

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.

_big_a6LAF_4345
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!

safe_image-13.php

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!!

1

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!!!

Ivy League Decides To Trash Winter Sports And Fall Sports As Well

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.

DSC_7709
Audrey Sawers meets up with a William and Mary attacker

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!!!

Patriot League And Lafayette College Announce Return Of Sports

_big_a6LAF_4352

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.

DSC_7762
Sophie Carr is on the ball!!

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.

10908778

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.

Catching Up On Field Hockey Events

1

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

images-1

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!

NCAA To Set Spring Championships For Fall Sports

11431323

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!!!

2019_PAG_Women_Bronze_USA_Chile2918

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

Now Is The Time To Prepare Fall Sports For the Spring Season

_big_a1LAF_4387

The D1 Football Championship Committee has met and recommended the FCS championships be played April 18- May 15. (Lafayette is an FCS school in football). The brackets have been reduced to 16 teams from 24. The championship field will be 10 auto bids and and 6 at large bids, similar to field hockey. The NCAA football oversight committee will meet this week to consider the new format and date.

_big_a26LAF_0019

Once football is established, the other fall olympic sports will most certainly follow. The NCAA has established a mandatory “socialization” period of six weeks which consists of strength and conditioning, individual instruction and, position instruction. The period is designed to observe and isolate those with Covid before actual practices begin. Coaches say they need 3-4 weeks after that to be ready. Will there be scrimmages or do we go right to games? How many games are needed to qualify for championship eligibility? At the moment Field Hockey has been adjusted to 9 games.

So if we were to start on January 1, the first game could then be played after March 12.  It would be necessary to play at least two games a week to fill requirements plus have a PL championship. There needs to be good planning since there would be sharing of facilities with the spring sports.

IMG_0608
Leopards get ready in Maroon Club weight training center!!

Basketball start dates are to be decided by mid September after that is not too early to start making plans for the spring. I wait for a clear indication that the process has begun.

The NCAA vs Power Five Football

67951739_2415500581872190_4886809803659149312_o

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!!

Icata Alea Est….The Die Is Cast

IMG_0630

It was reported that on January 10th 49 BCE Suetonis said to Julius Caesar, “Icata Alea Est,” as he led is forces across the Rubicon in northern Italy in defiance of the Senate. There is nothing that can stop the inevitable. Similarly, the Big Ten athletic conference deferred all fall sports to the spring, making  almost all Olympic Sports, in particular Field Hockey,  fall short of the 50% guideline for a NCAA championship season.

As I had opined last Friday, the action by the Mid American Conference moved Division one field hockey into failing to get the needed 39 to stage an NCAA Field Hockey Championship. The move by the Big Ten assures that Field Hockey will have enough competitions in the spring ( should they play) to stage that tournament.

The one remaining field hockey playing conference to go, is the ACC, which is being held hostage by Football,  along with several other power five conferences are  insisting on playing this fall. In the case of field hockey, who will the ACC be playing??  No doubt each other, and will that make them ineligible for a spring NCAA championship?? At the moment, they are being held prisoner by their football playing brethren.

DSC_7040

The NCAA has almost made their leadership ineffective, as they played no role in the Big Ten ( and Pac 12) action. Some Ivy League schools may still not have enough student athletes to field a team so the moves yesterday made it more likely the 39 team limit could be met this spring.

My hope is Lafayette has begun planning for the spring, to allow the next phase to happen. As it stands now, there will be about 700 students on campus this fall. There are 4-5 months now to plan and insure that the spring population is sufficient to resume all activities. GO PARDS!!

Mid American Cancels Fall Sports

safe_image-13.php

The mid American Conference of which the field hockey playing schools are Appalachian  State, Ball State, Kent State, Miami, Ohio, Central Michigan, and Longwood, announced the canceling of all fall sports!! These seven schools will bring the number of schools not playing this fall to 40 assuming Louisville will return after their quarantine. Since there are 78 Division one schools and the NCAA has stated if more that 50% if the eligible schools don’t play, there will be no NCAA championship this fall.

In my opinion, all the remaining schools should bag the fall season and play a full series of games this spring. It solves a lot of eligibility issues and gives time to reschedule 16 or 18 games, in other words a full season!!!

In this crazy season that might be too logical to happen….but maybe!!!