Edito Letter From The Editor
Ultimate Athlete Magazine
Letter from the Editor
Thanks for joining us amidst a memorable spring college season. The weather isn’t the only thing beginning to heat up right now, as intense moments and incredible action are taking place on the athletic ﬁelds of colleges and universities throughout the tri state area. As we speak, local college athletes are gearing up for conference ﬁnals, ﬁnal exams and even professional athletic careers. In this issue, Ultimate Athlete Magazine will look into some of the area’s powerhouse men’s lacrosse programs, which have taken their 2011 campaigns to the brink of the post season. Stony Brook and Hofstra were led by their stable of superstars and Major Leagie Lacrosse draftees in the ﬁght to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament, with the hopes of each coming down to the ﬁnal game of the season. On the women’s side, Adelphi continues their dominance of Division II as they enter the NCAA tournament in their quest for yet another national title. On the ﬂip side, Stony Brook looks to build on the improvement they showed this season with a brand new head coach at the helm in 2012. On the diamond, the L.I.U baseball team is enjoying a resurgence that ended in a regular season conference title and C.W. Post softball is continuing their success with a new crop of talented freshman taking over major roles. Continue reading our Spring Volume II edition for these stories and more. Stay with Ultimate Athlete Magazine to get caught up on what’s happening in local college athletics throughout the rest of the spring season and into the summer. Sincerely, Mike Browning College Sports Editor
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ultimateathletemagazine.com ultimate Ultimate Athlete Magazine (ISSN 1931-5295) is published 12 times a year by Ultimate Athlete, Inc., 40 Woodbine Avenue, Northport, New York 11768. All contents copyright 2009 by Ultimate Athlete, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use in whole or part of the content without the prior written consent of Ultimate Athlete, Inc. is strictly prohibited. All logos and trademarks are the properties of their respective owners. Although the writers and the publisher have exhaustively researched all sources to ensure the accuracy and the completeness of the information contained in this publication, we assume no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. The opinions expressed in all materials are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Ultimate Athlete, Inc or Long Island’s Ultimate Athlete Magazine.
SPRING 2011 Volume II
nts Featur CO N
20 Long Island University Mens Baseball
34 Stony Brook Mens Lacrosse
42 St. Josepâ€™s College New Outdoor Athletic Complex
46 Empire Challenge Sports Expo Announcement
48 C. W. Post Softball
60 New York University Mens Tennis
64 Stony Brook
Former Coach Leaves
68 Sports Psychology Tournament Parenting
74 UA Training
Changing the Status Quo
82 Pro Corner NFL Draft
The C.W. Post softball team celebrates as teammate Nicole Hagenah arrives at home plate after hitting a home run.
Photo by Morgan Harrison
Photo by Morgan Harrison
Senior midďŹ elder Victoria Cable of Stony Brook University battles for the ball against a Maryland defender.
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ith a team Comprised mainly of freshman, it was no surprise that the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team was picked to finish 10th in the Big East in the pre-season coaches poll. After a fantastic undefeated non-conference performance and a respectable 9-9 record in their grueling Big East schedule, the team rose above expectations to finish ninth. Because they finished just outside of the top eight in the Big East, the Huskies missed out on a first round bye in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, something even last year’s team, which was largely regarded as a disappointment, managed to secure. However, as all of the basketball pundits have pointed out, the Big East was remarkably strong this year, shattering the old mark of teams reaching the NCAA Tournament with 11. Although some experts also point out that the Big East as a whole did not perform well in the tournament, Head Coach Jim Calhoun still thinks that his conference is the nation’s golden standard, with any team coming out a threat to win the national championship. “Frankly, the NCAA Tournament is the best of the best and people don’t realize how hard it is,” Calhoun said. “Sometimes you get a bad match-up, sometimes bad luck. But on the whole, the league had a fantastic year.” By this reasoning, UConn finishing ninth in the conference can’t be considered disappointing, especially when you consider some of the very impressive non-conference wins they tallied over difficult opponents such as Kentucky, Michigan State and Texas. Considering this torrid start, their subsequent conference record had some people speculating that the team had come crashing down to earth. Calhoun had a different understanding and was hardly surprised when his team went on one of the most historic runs in college basketball history. “It wasn’t as much a lull as it was just tough competition and experienced opponents, Calhoun said. “We got to New York for the tournament and our team just decided to get back to basics. Play great defense and let the rest took care of itself.” 15 WWW.ULTIMATEATHLETEMAGAZINE.COM
Alex Oriakhi puts up a mid range jumper in the face of a Butler Defender.
The team buckled down defensively against the best teams the country had to offer. Although they will be remembered for the awe-inspiring play of do-everything point guard Kemba Walker and the emergence of a true second star in freshman guard Jeremy Lamb, it was their tenacity on defense and strong play from roll players that kept them going through the Tournament. Calhoun pointed to the limited, but very strong play of true freshman forward Niels Giffey, who did a tremendous job for the team off the bench by being a defensive catalyst and scoring clutch baskets. “To do what he did in the Butler game and to do what he did defensively throughout the postseason, it just goes to show that you have to work hard and be ready when you get the call,” he said. It was a true collective effort, as UConn’s stars were able to turn to a deep bench throughout both the Big East and NCAA Tournaments. Players like seniors center Charles Okwandu and guard Donnell Beverly and freshman forward Tyler Olander and Giffey often got sporadic minutes, but when they were in the game, they never looked rusty or lethargic. Some people questioned whether it was a good idea for the team to play as many games as they did leading up to the NCAA Tournament. After all, how was fatigue not going to be an issue? Knowing his players were in top condition, Calhoun valued the experience his players were getting in the extra games. “I think it was a great motivator for our group,” he said. “It did not fatigue them, rather, it motivated them. And, at the toughest part of games, we 16 ULTIMATE ATHLETE MAGAZINE COLLEGE EDITION
Jeremy Lamb slams down the open dunk.
believed we were going to win, because we had done it.” After such an historic season, the last thing many coaches would be thinking about would be the prospects for next year’s team. UConn will be without the services of Walker and the team will need to find a new closer for tight games; something Walker was seemingly able to do whenever the game was in the waning minutes. Calhoun is confident that his queue of talent will yield more superstars next season. “We have a terrific group coming back next season,” he said. “Jeremy Lamb and Alex Oriakhi will be one of the top inside-out duos in the nation and Shabazz Napier and Roscoe Smith round out a very good top four players, as good as many other top teams in the country. I think we will have a chance to be a very good team again next season.” Thanks to a strong returning core with the best experience a team can attain, coupled with a surge of recruits who are sure to want to come to UConn in the upcoming seasons with Coach Calhoun at the helm, Husky fans should expect many great years to come.
Kemba Walker goes up strong for a layup despite the efforts of a Butler defender.
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By Russell Steinberg Photos Courtesy of LIU 20 ULTIMATE ATHLETE MAGAZINE COLLEGE EDITION
ong Island University Head Baseball Coach Don Maines has enjoyed coaching every Blackbirds team he has ever had, regardless of the fact that none have ever finished with a winning record. Maines really likes this year’s team too, but something is a little different about them. The Blackbirds sit atop the Northeast Conference standings and have already set a school record for wins and are looking to make noise in its first conference tournament appearance in a decade. “You can throw out the regular season once the playoffs start,” said junior catcher Tyler Jones. “The field is wide open.” Strong non-conference play set the tone, even though the Blackbirds were swept by George Mason in their season-opening series. It wasn’t until seven games into the season in a game against University of Maryland-Eastern Shore trailing 7-4 in the top of the seventh inning, that L.I.U. found its stride. The Blackbirds scored three runs in the top of the frame and shut down the Hawks in the bottom. In the top of the eighth, L.I.U. blew the game open with five runs en route to a 12-7 victory and never looked back. Maines believes the real key to success is his players knowing they can win any game as long as every player believes in himself. “It’s what we say before every game,” said the seven-year skipper. “Who is going to step up? Who is going to be the guy that puts us on his back? For the first time in a long time, L.I.U. is favored to win the four-team NEC tour-
nament after a blistering streak where they won 18 of their first 23 conference games. Maines knew his team had talent, but also that it would need the right mindset to get to the NEC tournament. This meant each and every player being accountable to the rest of the team and showing the five qualities he presented in a PowerPoint before the season that he knew his team must posses in order to win: focus, discipline, presence, adaptability and desire. “If you have a couple guys that buy-in and believe it, then they make the non-believers believers,” he said. “This is the right group.” 21 WWW.ULTIMATEATHLETEMAGAZINE.COM
Individual accomplishments this year have all been in the name of unity and the hope that they would lead the whole group to the postseason. The club has embraced a team-first mentality that stresses that accountability In the middle of one game, sophomore hurler Matt McCormick was sitting in the outfield bullpen when he saw an L.I.U. batter fail to run out a ground ball. McCormick got up, jogged across the field and into the dugout and simply said to the batter, “the least you can do is hustle.” In another game, one of the freshmen struck out three times and committed three errors. Unprompted, junior infielder Brad Grieve approached the player after the game with a blank sheet of paper. On the front, he wrote “3 K’s, 3 Errors.” “This was your game today,” he said, turning the paper over, revealing the blank side. “This is your next game. Anything can happen.”
Tyler Jones Coach Don Maines
L.I.U. has continued to win by maintaining the belief that any player can come up big in a given game. Jones, who humbly attributes his monster season to “[being] lucky,” has led the Blackbirds’ offense all season long. The backstop is hitting a torrid .437 with 36 RBIs and has been able to take time between tearing the cover off the ball to develop a better rapport with his battery mates. “I’ve been able to take over more responsibility this year by working with the pitching staff, calling pitches and controlling the game,” he said. On the mound, McCormick is tied for the team lead with six wins and sophomore Chris Franzese has struck out a team-high 50 batters.
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With a balance of pitching and offense, L.I.U. has changed its image around the league. Maines has noticed that teams no longer come into Brooklyn thinking a game at L.I.U. means an automatic victory. Everyone on the team knows that with the Blackbirdsâ€™ success comes even tougher competition with opponents bringing their A-game into Brooklyn. â€œWe have to be better at every facet of what we do,â€? Maines said. L.I.U. can continue to get better as long as it keeps executing on the field and helping each other off of it. With the possibility of the NCAA tournament this year and sustained success in the future, Maines hopes he has finally brought a winning atmosphere to Brooklyn.
By Steve Miller | Photos by Anne Kasten
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t age 18, Michael Lang felt at home in the dark New Jersey nights of Jersey City and the hour-long car rides to and from Dumont. Baseball practice ended at 7 p.m. at St. Peter’s Prep and the 60-minute ride home awaited, but Lang remained on the field. For hours after practice, assistant coach Kevin Wendolowski threw to Lang, who took swing after swing. “Mike, are you OK getting home?” Wendolowski always asked. “I’m fine, coach,” Lang replied. “I just want to keep hitting.” And he did. The result was a First Team AllState selection in his senior season, but Lang was the only member of his team without a Division I scholarship offer. He almost committed to Cornell to play football and had a spot to play baseball at Rowan University, but Lang wanted a bigger stage. He chose to perform at Rutgers University, where he would walk-on to the baseball team without a scholarship. Now, at age 22 and in his senior year with three storied seasons behind him, Lang is a likely pick in this year’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Lang’s career as a Scarlet Knight was an incredible journey that was never lacking in obstacles. Lang earned a scholarship at Rutgers after his first collegiate season, won the team’s Most Valuable Player award in his second and was nearly drafted after his third, but the New York Mets were the only team to show interest last June and did not offer him enough to make the jump to the pros. So, Lang remained at Rutgers — the school that didn’t know he existed until Jersey City’s most influential sports figure, the late, great, major league scout and columnist Ed Ford, sat him down before Rutgers head coach Fred Hill.
“The first time I saw him was right here in my office,” Hill said. “Ed Ford recommended him, and if Ed Ford recommends somebody, you listen.” After high school, Lang found himself in a recruiting purgatory of sorts, where schools that wanted him to play baseball were afraid to commit to him because they thought he would go play football, and schools that wanted him to play football thought he would choose baseball. “But then I looked at myself and said I can’t see myself not playing baseball,” explained Lang, who at 6-foot, 185 pounds was too small for big-time college football. “It was either both or just baseball — I can’t give that up.” When the fiercely loyal Wendolowski realized Lang’s baseball career could hit a roadblock after high school, he knew Ford could help. “This kid can play,” Wendolowski said. “We [had] to do something for him. We [had] to get him to a good school.” First, Ford, the former major league scout with 30 years of experience with the Cubs, Angels, White Sox and Braves, had to approve. Lang laughs when he remembers standing in his St. Peter’s shirt and tie at a friend’s track meet, where he met Ford for the first time. “He’s telling me to get in my stance,” Lang said. “No bat, I’m in my shirt, tie and pants, standing there in my stance.” Beside the track, Ford made adjustments, moving Lang’s hands and making small changes. Then, he took Lang to meet Hill, who offered him a spot on the team that afternoon. “Lang was undiscovered, but he did not qualify as a scholarship-caliber player from day-one either,” Hill said. So, with a spot on the team, but with his fate out of his hands, all Lang could do was what he’s best at: hit. His mornings at Rutgers began at 8 a.m. at Bainton Field or with former Rutgers Hitting Coach Glenn Gardner in the batting cage, but he still did not see playing time with the Scarlet Knights. He had to work twice as hard and do twice as well to distinguish himself from scholarship players, which he expected. However, there was still plenty of frustration. “I would call Mr. Ford and be like, ‘I don’t know what to do. I’m working my ass off, and I’m still not getting in. I’m not even getting a chance,’” Lang remembers. “At that point, I didn’t know what to think.” When Big East play began, Lang stopped traveling with the team due to the conference’s 25-player limit. When he could, he sat next to Gardner at home games to break-down every play.
One day, as a storybook plot would dictate, things unexpectedly started to break Lang’s way. When classmate D.J. Anderson developed an eye infection before an April series at Georgetown, Lang found a place on the team bus. Then, starting right fielder Donny Callahan ran into a pitcher during warm-ups, injuring his nose and back. Callahan’s backup then made a base-running error in the second game, clearing the way for Lang to get a shot. Having prepared for this moment seemingly his entire life, Lang made the most of it and recorded his first collegiate hit. Lang led off the following game and recorded two more hits. “Then I still didn’t play the next two weeks and I’m like, ‘What the hell do I have to do to get in the lineup?’” Lang said. Lang returned to the lineup in a game against Delaware and started eight of the final 11 games to finish his freshman season with a .388 batting average. Lang has been a stalwart in the Scarlet Knights’ lineup ever since, starting 135 of 139 games since his sophomore season. The right-hander hit leadoff or third in all but one of those games with 21 career home runs — a stat he led all of New Jersey in when he was a senior in high school — and a .309 career batting average. All of this success had Lang believing an MLB team would draft him after last season. “I feel like my whole life, I always had to prove myself,” Lang said. “I felt like this might be the first time when I didn’t have to, maybe my abilities would show themselves. That wasn’t the case.” So, Lang returned to Rutgers. Hour rides to and from high school became hour rides to see a personal trainer, but Lang is at home in the hours when few others work. While there is no one watching during these dark hours, he hopes he might one day be discovered.
Photo by Morgan Harrison
Dowling pitcher Felicia Mendoza of Dowling College riďŹ‚es a fastball in a double header against Concordia College on March 15.
Photo by Anne Kasten
Rutgers third baseman Russ Hopkins ﬁres the ball to ﬁrst base in time to beat the runner.
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Stony Brook’s stellar se ason comes to an abrupt end.
fter the Seawolves destroyed the University of Maryland Baltimore County Retrievers in the opening game of America East play, they seemed to have regained the confidence they lost with early-season defeats to Virginia and Cornell. The one statistic that summed up the convincing 16-5 win best was the shot total in the first half – Stony Brook held a 32-1 advantage after two periods. This game was the turning point in a season that saw the Seawolves cruise to an American East regular season title. However, an old foe would ultimately determine what the team would be doing in May. It’s a down year for the America East conference, which made it all the more likely that Stony Brook would advance through the league tournament and secure an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. It also meant that a slip-up in the conference tournament would leave the Seawolves on the outside looking in when May rolled around, because an at-large bid is not guaranteed or even likely for a non-champion. Stony Brook was confident that its highpowered offense, which scored double-digit goals in each conference game and features four Major League Lacrosse draft picks, could carry the team toward its high expectations even on nights when the headliners don’t produce at their normal clips. “Everybody knows [Kevin Crowley], [Jordan McBride], [and Tom Compitello,]” said senior midfielder Timmy Trenkle. “Everybody locks on them and that opens things up for us. We start putting things in the net and they say, ‘oh oh, what are we going to do now?’ Then they focus on us and there’s Jordan and Kevin again. Like coach always says, this recruiting class is so good, pick your poison. We’re so dominant, try to stop one of us and someone else is going to go.” The team proved Trenkle’s point when they traveled to Hartford to play its toughest regular season conference game of the year in early April, where the Hawks held the Seawolves to just three goals through three quarters, the lowest total of the season.
“In those three quarters our character was put to the test,” said Head Coach and America East Coach of the Year Rick Sowell. “It was nice to get a win out of it, but I hated to have to wait three quarters to play like we did in the fourth, but you’re not always going to play well. It’s the mark of a good team that you can be down and pull games like that out in the end.” Stony Brook entered the final quarter down 6-3, but responded with three quick goals in the first two minutes of the fourth from the team’s second-tier scorers– the first two by junior midfielder Robbie Campbell and the third by Trenkle. Hartford went up twice more, but each time the Seawolves had an answer. It was Trenkle who tied it at seven and junior midfielder Russ Bonanno who tied it at eight. Campbell then scored the decisive goal and added one more for insurance to cap the frantic seven-goal fourth quarter and the 10-8 win. “They threw everything they could plus the kitchen sink at us,” Sowell said. “And we kind of stole it from them. They outplayed us for three quarters, out hustled us. But true to our character – go back to the Virginia game, the Towson game – down in the fourth quarter we’re a tough team to beat.” That the Seawolves were tested against an America East foe was a surprising, but the fact they passed the test was not. After the Hartford win, the Seawolves continued to take care of business. They weathered a driving rain storm to defeated Binghamton 13-6 at home and then clinched the America East regular season title and home field throughout the conference tournament with a dominating win over in-state rival Albany. “I think we’ve handled it well,” Sowell said of his teams play in conference. “We just don’t want to lose a game in conference. We’re motivated.” Winning a second straight regular season crown in the America East is a nice accomplishment, but far from the last goal they set for 2011. While anything short of a strong showing in the NCAA national tournament would be a bust, the heavily favored Seawolves would 36 ULTIMATE ATHLETE MAGAZINE COLLEGE EDITION
come up short at the hands of a familiar opponent. Hartford, a specter that hovered over them after they narrowly escaped their last encounter, would be the ones to end their season. The Seawolves and Hawks met again in the America East Championship game, with the winner due a bid to the NCAA tournament and the loser likely going home for the summer. As expected with these two teams, the game was close, featuring six ties and three lead changes. Each time a team gained the momentum, the other would seize it right back. Despite seven combined goals between Crowley and McBride, it was Hartford who had the momentum when the clock ran out, holding on for an11-10 victory. “I certainly have to commend Hartford,” said Sowell “I think we played too much defense today, and ultimately, didn’t have enough possessions.” Crowley, the first overall draft pick in Major League Lacrosse, is Division I’s active points leader with 232 and finished the season with 30. Fellow MLL draft choice and America East Player of the Year McBride finished his career with 175 goals, which is good enough for 10th all-time in Divison I history and to be considered one of Stony Brook’s all-time greats. Senior Tom Compitello, who will also be continuing his lacrosse career in Major League Lacrosse, scored a goal and an assist in the loss. He was shocked at the abrupt end to Stony Brook’s dominant streak. “This game has been a huge part of our lives,” he said. “I know all things come to an end; I just wasn’t ready for it today.
WOMEN’S VARSITY LACROSSE
Written by: Ken Ryan | Photos by: Morgan Harrison
POWERHOUSE LADY PANTHERS
PRIMED FOR FINAL RUN
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Adelphi Looks for Third Straight National Title
– This Time on Home Turf
Adelphi University lacrosse star Erica DeVito knew that those grueling early-morning runs across frozen, snow-covered grounds in January -- part of the team’s two-a-day preseason workouts -- would serve her and the Lady Panthers well when the crucial games of April and early May took place. Now those games have arrived. “All the hard work and effort we’ve put into practice pays off,” she said. As if to illustrate what kind of shape she is in, DeVito scored seven goals in leading Adelphi to a 1711 victory over LeMoyne in catapulting top-ranked Adelphi to another Northeast-10 tournament title. With the win, Adelphi earned an automatic bye into the national final four, which they will host in late May. Win or lose, Adelphi is already the most decorated program in Division II history with double the number of championships of any other program (2004, 2006, 2009 and 2010). The capper will be repeating as national champs on their home turf. “This was an exciting win for us, it was a chance for us to prove ourselves against a great team, which is exactly what we did,” Devito said after her sevengoal performance. “All the hard work and effort we’ve put into practice pays off with wins like these.” The difficult victory over LeMoyne was the kind of challenge the Lady Panthers wanted to experience. In late March, Adelphi survived an upset bid with an 11-9 win over LeMoyne, in a game played in snowy conditions in Syracuse. DeVito (70 goals, 25 assists) is a key cog in the Adelphi offensive juggernaut that is looking to make history again. She is joined by Elizabeth Fey (55 goals, 21 assists), Devan Crimi (43 goals, 25 assists), Demianne Cook (41 goals, 12 assists), Kaitlyn Carter (38 goals, 14 assists), Marissa Mills (35 goals, 14 assists), Meg Brown (19 goals, 2 assists), and the national player of the year – sophomore Claire Petersen (171 points, an all-time Division II record). 39 WWW.ULTIMATEATHLETEMAGAZINE.COM
Petersen, who also claimed the award a year ago, has won each year that she has been eligible as Adelphi joined the Northeast-10 a year ago. Petersen’s teammate Katelynn Ciaci was named the 2011 Northeast-10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Ciaci helped lead a defense that has permitted only 81 goals in 16 games this year. The 5.06 goals allowed per game are tied for tops in the country for fewest goals allowed. Frankie Caridi is the third Adelphi student-athlete to claim a major award as she was named the Goalkeeper of the Year by the conference’s head coaches. Caridi is among the conference
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and national leaders in goals against average (4.96) and save percentage (.597). Caridi, who has registered the only two shutouts in the Northeast-10 Conference this season, was also selected First Team All Conference. And then there is Adelphi head coach Joe Spallina, who was voted the 2011 Northeast-10 Coach of the Year by his peers. Coming off an undefeated season and two consecutive National Championships in 2010 and 2011, Spallina guided the Panthers to their second straight NE-10 regular season title after finishing conference play 12-0. It’s the second straight coach of the year honor for Spallina. Despite all the individual honors collected by Adelphi players, there is only one that matters to the program; a national title.
1 1 0 2 l l a F ng i m o C
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New sports complex builds legacy at St. Joe’s College Written by: Mike Browning | Photos by: Morgan Harrison The Campus of St. Joe’s College is a plot of attractive, neatly arranged academic buildings nestled along the eastbound service road of Sunrise Highway in Patchogue, NY. The campus seems out of place amongst the drab commercial strips that line the miles of concrete and guardrail that is one of Long Island’s busiest freeways. It is, however, this juxtaposition of highway and higher learning that makes St. Joe’s desirable as a commuter school. Perennially ranked in the U.S News and World Report’s best colleges, St. Joe’s gives students who wish to study locally the ability to get an education in an accessible campus, while also living at home and working. If you are driving along in a hurry, you may miss it altogether, but that is about to change. While nothing to scoff at, St. Joe’s athletics have traditionally served as a mere “after school” activity for most student-athletes. A lack of athletic facilities on campus has forced teams to use substandard ones, or those of other schools such as St. John’s the Baptist High School and Suffolk Community College, mak-
ing the instances where these teams contend for a championship seem almost miraculous. The tennis, track and soccer teams are all at the mercy of these other institutions and are sometimes shutout from play altogether. The studentathletes, who already have to structure their day around classes and other extracurricular activities, also have to contend with the time it takes to commute to and from practice and games. Starting this fall, even the most tunnel-visioned drivers will notice the $14,000,000, 24.8 acre complex that will spring up along Sunrise about ten minutes up the road from the main campus. The complex will house brand new tennis courts, baseball and softball fields, a field turf soccer and lacrosse field surrounded by a 400-meter track and flanked by a 1,500-seat grand stand and a new field house. Its arrival will not only mark an unprecedented expansion of the St. Joe’s campus, but also its emergence as a serious contender in the Skyline Conference. WWW.ULTIMATEATHLETEMAGAZINE.COM
As one might expect, the construction of the new complex was spurred by the need to add more academic buildings, but the athletic teams will reap the benefits nonetheless. The academic buildings will be built where the aging athletic fields now stand, moving the new athletic complex up the road to a previously wooded area. Athletic Director John Danzi is excited about the possibilities that the new facilities will make available to St. Joe’s, some that other schools may take for granted. “It makes scheduling a lot easier because we are not at the mercy of municipalities or other schools,” he said. “Those entities have been extremely good to us, but it always helps when you have your own facilities so you can schedule games and practices when you want to schedule them. It gives us a great deal more flexibility.” Head Tennis coach Glenn Nathan, who affectionately refers to his tenure as “the road show,” is prepared to see his program evolve into a national power with the help of the home-court advantage. The men’s and women’s teams have only been able to compete in one season per year, but Nathan envisions both teams playing full fall and spring seasons while also continuing play in the winter under a bubble. Not only will this give his tennis players a chance to get the most of their collegiate tennis experience, it will negate the advantage many of their skyline rivals, who
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practice in indoor field houses, have held over their head for years. “There are great tennis players on Long Island that we don’t get,” Nathan said. “All we need is one or two of them to stay home for us to be contenders. My feeling about the NCAA division III is that if you are playing all year ‘round, you can compete with the best. My feeling is that we will be able to use our courts all year round.” Nathan is thankful for the hospitality shown to his team by the institutions that have lent them their facilities and welcomes the opportunity to pay the favor forward. Opening the doors of the new facility to the community will be a focus for St. Joe’s athletics. Nathan hopes that giving young players a chance to use the courts will not only strengthen ties to the community, but spark a grass roots re-
cruiting effort by making St. Joe’s athletics a large part of the lives of local kids from a young age. “You can’t ask for a better billboard for recruiting,” Nathan said. “The athletics fields will be right off sunrise highway to begin with, so it will show people what we have building here. St. Joe’s College looks like a very small college, but to be able to say we have a home and be able to show the parents and their kids that we are a local school, but a competitive school will be huge.” Matt Reed, a freshman tennis player who has just finished his first and what he hopes is his only season as part of Glenn’s road show, is looking forward to finally having a home. Reed knew the new facility would be a part of his college experience when he chose St. Joe’s and is excited about the positive changes it will make to his daily routine.
“It means a lot, because, as of right now, this is my first season and we had to do practices at Suffolk or St. John’s, which is a pain to go back and forth,” Reed said. “It’s pretty cool to have our own facilities and sports teams at St. Joe’s in one area. It will also help out a lot, because the courts are only 5, 10 minutes away from my house, which gives me more time for homework and if I have an essay or something due the next day.” Now that St. Joe’s athletics have a home, they are ready to take this commitment that was previously needed just to compete, and turn it towards filling the trophy case in the brand new field house. According to Nathan, the new facilities will be known as the launching pad for unlimited future successes in St. Joe’s athletics. “We can hold Camps, tournaments, community tennis,” Nathan said. “All that brings everyone to the college and that will help us build the program for years to come.”
2011 outback steakhouse
empire challenge The 16th annual Outback Steakhouse Empire Challenge is once again fast approaching, relieving high school football fans of the lull in action they are forced to endure during the winter and spring months. New York’s most anticipated high school football event, which features the finest coaches and players from Long Island and New York City, is poised to be the biggest Empire Challenge yet, with a record turnout of fans, sponsors and volunteers. The lineups that will take the field at James M. Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University have been selected and the coaching staffs have been assembled. The teams will soon be meeting for practice to become acquainted and prepare for the final game of their high schools careers. Freeport legend Russ Cellan will once again take the helm for Long Island while Coach of the Year nominee Daniel Perez of Fort Hamilton will lead a powerful New York City team. Cellan, the architect of Freeport’s powerhouse football program and perennial coach of the year candidate, heads a coaching staff comprised of Long Island’s best coaches. He will lead the team for the second-consecutive year after adding another Long Island Championship to Freeport’s ever-expanding trophy case in 2010. Perez, who capped off a perfect 13-0 season by winning the PSAL championship with Fort Hamilton
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High School in his first year as head coach, has been honored with the position of Head Coach for the New York City all-stars. On The field, the teams will feature the best talent New York high school football has to offer. Long Island will be led by Mike Pellegrino, who was one of the most productive players in New York, dismantling defenses for 1,363 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns while racking up 111 tackles and nine sacks on defense for his Connetquot Thunderbirds. Pellegrino’s prolific season earned him the Hanson award as Suffolk County’s best player. His athleticism earned him a lacrosse scholarship to Johns Hopkins next year. New York City features Syracuse-bound Brandon Reddish of Fort Hamilton high school, who caught the game-winning touchdown in the PSAL championship game for head coach Daniel Perez. The explosive wide receiver’s 18 touchdowns and continuous highlight reel plays earned him Player of the Year honors and high expectations for his career with the Orange. The highly competitive game will not only win bragging rights for one of the regions, but will also benefit the Boomer Esiason Foundation, which fights cystic fibrosis, an inherited chronic disease that affects thousands of Americans.
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FRESH FACES PROVIDE THE SPARK FOR C.W. POST SOFTBALL By Mike Browning | Photos By Morgan Harrison
The NCAA East Regional Softball Tournament was supposed to be another chapter in C.W. Postâ€™s 2010 storybook season, but proved instead to be an anticlimactic ending. In two straight lopsided losses to Molloy and Dowling College, the highly touted Pioneers offense could muster only two total runs, sending the oncehopeful team home sooner than anyone ever expected. As Head Coach Jamie Apicella and his returning players were forced to pick up the pieces this season, they faced several questions and a lot of uncertainty. Key seniors that had once carried the team departed, including All-American shortstop Christie Softy, who blasted 17 home runs in a 2010 campaign that rewrote the C.W. Post record books.
With these seniors out and a large recruiting class coming in, 2011 was perceived by the college softball community to be a rebuilding season for the Pioneers, who would probably only go as far as their pair of senior aces would carry them. This outlook was reflected in the preseason rankings, which left C.W. Post out of the top 25. Apicella was well aware of the skepticism surrounding his team, but with the strongest recruiting class in his 13 years of coaching entering the program, there was no reason for the all-time winningest coach in C.W. Post history to think he couldnâ€™t replicate his success.
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C.W. POST SOFTBALL “We are always confident that we will be able to play for an East Coast Conference Championship and solidify an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “I felt with the quality of our returning student-athletes and a very talented freshmen class entering this fall, I felt the goals would remain the same as every season.” He was right. While senior starting pitchers Sarah Kiser and Christina Berardi have fulfilled their expectations as anchors of the pitching staff, the incoming recruiting class has far and away exceeded theirs. Blue-chip recruit and Suffolk County Player of the Year Nicole Hagenah was the apple of Apicella’s eye this recruiting season and landing her meant landing a stalwart in the infield for the next four years. While Apicella anticipated Hagenah contributing right away, he could not have expected that she alone would fill the gaping hole in the lineup caused by Softy’s departure.
The humble freshman, who has already accrued 13 home runs and 60 RBIs while hitting just a shade under .500, has a simple perspective on her role this season: “We lost some big bats last year, so I was just trying to come in and help out as much as I can.” It’s fair to say Hagenah has accomplished her goal. Perhaps more than any tangible stats, Post’s key to success thus far has been making the infusion of the young players into the roster work. An undeniable chemistry has developed between the players on this year’s team, as the skill and desire of the incoming freshman have meshed well with the must-win attitude of the upperclassmen, especially the lone seniors, Kiser and Berardi, who are both veterans of Post’s appearances in the College World Series in 2007 and 2008. For Apicella, developing this chemistry was as important as developing the skills of his players. “Freshmen have taken on roles that their upper classmen peers have empowered them to take on and the upper classmen have done a great job in including them in these roles rather than intimidating them away from [them],” he said.
Freshman infielder Carly Chamberlain, who has been the spark for the offense this season by getting on base and causing problems for opposing teams on the base paths, has been empowered to take on the role of offensive catalyst. “I wanted to do anything to help out the team,” she said. Being a leadoff hitter is important because the little things I do pick up the team. I just try to get on [base] and do anything I can to cause a spark.” For Kaiser, this dynamic comes as a welcomed surprise. Rather than serving as a mentor during a rebuilding season, she is playing alongside a freshman class that supports her efforts and shares her desire for one last shot at a national title. “I feel like I have to be a leader, but since there are only two seniors, I feel like I have to work with the class below us and they have a big class with a lot of leadership personalities, so that has really helped us,” Kaiser said. “We view them as equals.” More than top-end talent, it’s this chemistry that will carry the Pioneers to the College World Series this season. An infusion of youth usually means inexperience that will count against a team and limit their post season success, but according to Apicella, the Pioneer’s blend of youth and experience will serve them well.
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“Sometimes youth helps you,” he said. “The not knowing lets them cut lose and just play. In the NCAA, if you’re playing quality softball towards the end of the season, it could filter through and carry throughout the post season. It’s a very difficult process, so it’s about who is playing the best softball at that time.” Kaiser’s fellow power-pitching senior, Christina Berardi, is invigorated by the youth and attitude of the young stars and knows that her leadership can make them dangerous come playoff time. “We have the motivation and drive,” she said. “[Christina and I] show the girls and tell the girls what it means to be in the playoffs and how we need to be as a team.” Those who wrote-off the 2011 Pioneers were forced to acknowledge the team’s rebound this season and undoubtedly recognize their potential to make a College World Series run. The roster of hungry veterans and talented youth are eager to make an impact on the national stage and will be a force come playoff time.
LACROSSE #10 #3
CHRIS LUBIN 54
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Written by: Ed Krinsky Photos by: Adil Borluca
CHRIS LUBIN NH Lubin Lubin Amengual Amengual aadynamic dynamicduo duofor forNYIT NYITlacrosse lacrosse History is full of successful teams that were led by highly skilled duos. The Army football teams of the 1940s had their “Touchdown Twins” in Glenn Davis and “Doc” Blanchard. The New York Yankees of the 1960s had their “M and M” home run hitters in Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. The 1973 NBA Championship New York Knicks had Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe in their back court.
The current New York Institute of Technology men’s lacrosse team has its own dynamic duo in senior at-
tackman Ryan Amengual and graduate attackman Chris Lubin. The two Long Island natives have provided the Bears stickmen with both a scoring punch and leadership this season, coming close to propelling NYIT to a berth in the NCAA Division II playoffs after a sluggish start.
Despite the fact that both players grew up playing lacrosse on Long Island, they were never before together on the same field either as opponents or teammates. However, any doubts concerning their ability to share the Bears’ offense and mesh together were
quickly dispelled, as they have been model teammates and complemented each other with their scoring prowess and playmaking ability.
Amengual, a veteran of the NYIT lacrosse program, tasted a championship two seasons ago when the Bears won the Division II national championship. After playing two seasons at midfield, he moved back to attack, where he has teamed up with Lubin to create a dynamic one-two scoring punch that ranks among the most threatening in collegiate lacrosse.
# 3 CHRIS LUBIN Lubin had a stellar career at Lehigh University after transferring from Providence College. Following his graduation from the Pennsylvania school, he looked for a graduate program where he could pursue both a master’s degree in business administration and take full advantage of his fourth year of eligibility in intercollegiate lacrosse. Head Coach Bill Dunn, who offered him that opportunity when he recruited him to play for NYIT, wanted to take advantage of Lubin’s final year of eligibility to infuse his offense with supplemental talent. Since then, Lubin has more than lived up to Dunn’s expectations. He is not only a terrific athlete, but his work ethic has been an inspiration to his younger teammates.
RYAN AM When comparing his experiences at Lehigh and NYIT, Lubin noticed a slight difference in the caliber of play between Division I and Division II lacrosse. According to Lubin, both schools compete in quality, competitive leagues, but the main difference is in the depth of the rosters, where he gives the edge to Division I programs. However, he is quick to point out that the East Coast Conference, in which NYIT competes, is home to some of the strongest Division II programs in the country and teams therein could hold their own against those in Division I.
CHRIS LUBIN Amengual was a pre-season All-American selection and he has certainly lived up to that prediction. Moving back to the attack, where he’s gelled with Lubin, has increased his scoring output. Leading by example, Lubin and Amengual have exemplified the real key to the success for the Bears; unselfishness. The duo has distributed the ball, which has lead to goals from all over the field, especially between the two.
RYAN AM RYAN AMENGUAL
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N CHRIS LUBIN
N CHRIS LUBIN
MENGUAL # 10
#3 NYIT’s Bears got off to a rough start, dropping their first two games to Merrimack and Mercy. They then rattled off four straight victories, including a 10-7 win over Long Island rival Dowling College. But the streak was ended by their Route 25A neighbor, C. W. Post, by a 9-5 score on the Pioneers’ home field. However, they soon got back to their winning ways with wins over Dominican, Wheeling and Chestnut Hill. Lubin and Amengual were largely responsible for this bounce back, but the Bears could not win enough of their remaining games to land an at-large berth to the playoffs.
# 10 When asked about their futures in lacrosse, both players lamented the lack of opportunities in professional leagues like Major League Lacrosse, pointing out that there are just six teams and salaries are relatively low. While Chris is not sure about his future in lacrosse, Ryan would like to embark on a coaching career and eventually coach on the college level. One way or the other, it appears that both Chris and Ryan are hooked on the sport and will find a way to keep lacrosse in their lives.
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We always seem to forget that college athletes do a lot more than just compete. They are not paid professionals who focus entirely on training to win championships. In fact, like the NCAA commercial says, most of them will become professionals in something other than sports. Dealing with the pressures of academics and playing a sport isn’t easy. Add to that stress by throwing student-athletes into the bustling heart of Manhattan, and you have New York University athletics. The NYU tennis program doesn’t even have a practice facility on campus, but the Violet tennis players are more than willing to traverse the largest city on earth to practice there. NYU is a member of Division III, which houses some of the smaller colleges in the country and prohibits its members from issuing athletic scholarships. However, given NYU’s locale, anyone who visits will tell you it feels like the largest campus in the world. It has the largest international population of any private institution and mixes with the millions of residents of lower Manhattan. Sophomore Connor Witty knows the difficulty of moving from a quiet campus to the bustle of New York City better than anyone. Before transferring to NYU in his sophomore year, Witty accepted a scholarship offer to play tennis at Villanova, where campus sprawled in the calm and affluent suburbs of Philadelphia. “One of the reasons I left was because it was so much to deal with in terms of athletics and academics,” said Witty, a psychology major from Poughkeepsie, NY. “One of the reasons why I went to Villanova was that I was hoping to find that balance between academics and athletics. I didn’t find it there, but I found it here.”
Written by: Dan Cappello | Photos Courtesy of: NYU
NYU Tennis players do it for the love of the game
Because NYU athletes don’t receive any financial help for playing tennis, making the decision to play a sport while also keeping up with the rigorous academic standards of NYU is not easy. For Witty, who knew what the demands were on student-athletes at a Division II school, it’s better to be pushed harder academically than on the court. “It was more like I was an athlete first and a student second,” Witty said. “Here, I found that there is more leniency. If I need to take a day to study for my exam, the next day they will give me that leeway, because they know that the next day I will be focused on really working hard on the court.” Witty said he adjusted to campus and city life fairly easily, but that isn’t always the case for student-athletes coming from a suburban setting. Old Westbury, NY native Elizabeth Stachtiaris never lived far from Manhattan, but upon arrival in her freshman year, she definitely felt the culture shock. “When I was a freshman it was hard to adjust,” said Stachtiaris, who will be graduating a year early. “But I just tried to think of it as a job I had to do because other people take jobs and they get it done. I tried to think of tennis as a stress relief.” Stachtiaris gave up a full scholarship to CUNY Queens to attend NYU and has no regrets about her decision. “NYU attracts some of the best and brightest and some just happen to play tennis at a very high level,” said head coach Horace Choy, who has been coaching the women’s team for 18 seasons and is in his fourth year as head coach of both the men’s and women’s team. “Student-athletes at NYU make a conscious decision to come here and to play a sport so they are well aware of the demands.” 62 ULTIMATE ATHLETE MAGAZINE COLLEGE EDITION
The women’s team struggled this season, losing their last match against Case Western Reserve University 5-1, finishing the season with a 1-11 record. The men finished 2011 with a 7-6 record. The teams practice four days a week in the evenings. They arrive at the Jerome S. Coles Sports Center—the main hub of NYU athletics— where they hop into a van and drive a halfhour or more to a practice facility off campus. Their facilities are scattered throughout the city, so some nights they drive to Harlem and other nights the Bronx, depending on where the courts are open. “They do not have the ability to hit serves during a break in the day or to practice on their own if their schedule allows,” said Choy. “This forces them to make the most out of the time we have on the court as a team.” But the experience of traveling together for practice doesn’t seem to bother the players. According to Stachtiaris and Witty, the trips in the van provide a bonding experience few other teams experience. “There is a lot of camaraderie,” said Witty. The team arrives back on campus after 11p.m., but despite the late evenings, Witty and Stachtiaris don’t feel pressured when it comes to preparing for academics. “I would definitely recommend Division III to people who are really motivated by academics and are interested in playing a sport that they love,” Witty said. “NYU makes it pretty easy to get integrated and involved in the student body. I love it here. I live on Union Square West; I’ve got nothing to complain about.”
Former Coach Leaves Legacy of Progress at Stony Brook hings didn’t always go as planned for Allison Comito and her Stony Brook Seawolves durT ing her six-year tenure as Women’s Lacrosse Head Coach. After a 2-1 start this season, the Seawolves dropped seven of their next eight en route to a 4-11 record. So far, the young off-season is no different, as Comito has stepped down as head coach. Although Comito, who believed it to be in the best interest of both parties to resign, did not achieve all the goals she set before taking the position, she has made a profound impact on her players and left a legacy of hard work and improvement at Stony Brook.
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From her days as an All-American at North Shore High School and winning four consecutive NCAA championships at Maryland, Comito is accustomed to winning. She has instilled many of the values she’s learned from her years of playing lacrosse at an elite level in her team. “She still is able to get out and play with us and show us what she’s made of,” senior midfielder Victoria Cable said of Comito. “It’s really inspiring to know that you’re able to continue learning every day. She comes out and teaches us something new that she’s learned throughout her years.”
The 31-year old is just nine years removed from scoring the game-winning goal in overtime for her Maryland Terrapins when they defeated Georgetown in the national championship. “Almost everything I use today is from what I have gained over the years,” Comito said. “Something my coaches always emphasized while I was in school was that you need to be willing to make mistakes and learn from them and willing to take risks on the field to see what works for you. I try to encourage my players to figure out what works by taking risks.” While many of the risks may not have resulted in victories, Comito still believes her team made progress this year and has built a solid foundation. “The thing that we tend to focus on is that while we weren’t coming up with those wins, there was a huge improvement from last year to this year,” she said. “We focus on the fact that we might not be finishing the games and winning all of them, but we’re in them. We’re competing.” “Competing” is a motif of the 2011 season for the Seawolves. While not having the wins to show for their effort, they take solace in the fact they improved
with each game and made their opponent feel lucky to have escaped with the victory. “We competed every single day,” Comito said. “It doesn’t matter what name is on the jersey, you have to go out there and play your game no matter what is one the line. I hope that my players leave this experience and know that they competed.” Cable, who finished her senior season third on the Seawolves with 23 goals, has never been lacking for inspiration with Comito as coach. “Victoria leads by example,” Comito said. “She performs well every day and she’s one of those players that are really hard to stop. She keeps after it, she’s persistent. She’s one of those players that are willing to play on either side of the field to get the job done.” Senior midfielder Melissa Cook is another player who has thrived under Comito, developing leadership skills from playing under her for four years. “She knows the game better than a lot of people do,” Comito said of Cook, who led the team with 28 goals. “It’s not just about how she’s performing on the field. Her real leadership comes into play with her teaching aspect of the game. She really cares about
each one of her teammates. She loves teaching people what kind of comes naturally to her.” Even through a difficult season, the Seawolves stayed together and continued to work hard for Comito, a testament to the coach’s ability to lead. She has had a first-hand view of the growth of women’s lacrosse and believes she knows what will get Stony Brook to the top of the mountain. “We’re bringing in some really athletic freshman in the fall,” she said. “They can play end line to end line and anywhere on the field and that will help us be more versatile. We just need to continue to bring players in that will allow the program to grow by being fast, strong, and used to playing at the top level. “You need to be better every year, it’s harder to get to the top level,” she said. “That will make the sport grow even more.” After resigning, Stony Brook Director of Athletics, Jim Fiore, was thankful for Comito’s services and the direction she has taken the women’s lacrosse program. “I want to thank Coach Comito for her contributions to Stony Brook women’s lacrosse over the last six years and wish her the best as she plans for her future pursuits,” he said. “We are committed to developing a Stony Brook women’s lacrosse program that has a national profile and annually competes for the America East Championship, and we look forward to finding a coach who will accomplish the goals we have set forth for the program.” In her six years, Comito posted a 42-54 (.438) overall record and 14-22 (.389) mark in America East Conference games. She led Stony Brook to the 2007 America East regular season title and an appearance in the America East Championship, but the Seawolves have not qualified for the conference tournament since, going 5-19 in conference play over the last four seasons.
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Former Coach Allison Comito
A critical and often unrecognized part of any athlete’s success is in the support they receive. Tiger Woods is a dramatic example of this. When his parents were alive and together he thrived and was a remarkable success. But when his dad passed away and he lost this parental structure and guidance he self destructed. The role of the parent is crucial to the athlete’s performance. If they know what to do they can be an invaluable support before, during and after tournament play. This article will discuss these three areas and point out what to do for your child and what not to do.
The role of the sports parent starts long before the bus arrives at the field. Here are just a few areas that must be managed: Money: Competitive sports may be very costly. It is not unusual for the family of an elite figure skater or gymnast to spend as much at $75,000 per year in travel expenses, hotel bills, training, ice time, fitness, chiropractic, sport psychology, nutrition and equipment. Country club dues can cost a family $40,000 per year alone if you have a young golfer. One of the secrets in the world of elite sports is that the family must be fairly wealthy. A parent’s job is to finance but not to over extend the family budget and do all this with a smile.
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Travel: The parentâ€™s job is to provide transportation both locally and nationally. Cars, trains, buses and jets are usually needed. The parent must be the one who organizes all this and it is never easy. Pep talks: The pep talk is important to any athlete and the parent can be the one who gives it. The way to do this is to first ask the athlete what they need to focus on during play. Remind them of this before they go on to the field. The parent ought to be aware of the right balance between training and rest. Many young athletes become obsessed with training and do not know when to rest and the parent can help them strike the right balance between work and rest.
When the tournament day arrives, the role of the parent continues to be critical. All children yearn for parents to show care and support throughout their lives. Athletes are no different. How does a parent show unconditional support during competition and at the same time insure their presence does not negatively impact athletic performance? Parents who are successful in this role are those that maintain their verbal and nonverbal demeanor in the stands or sidelines. They allow for the coaches and referees to do their jobs and give their child the ability to compete without parental interference. For example, in tennis, golf and equestrian sports there is minimal audience participation with reserved clapping and cheering at appropriate times. When parents at these venues get over involved in coaching or cheering, their child becomes very aware of their presence which can be distracting. While team sports like baseball and football allow for more fan participation, children are often aware of their parent in the stands especially if they become over involved in the game, cheer inappropriately or call out to umpires or coaches. Parents who choose to leave the venue because they are too nervous, or canâ€™t bear to watch their child compete, send a nonverbal message that my feelings (the parent) are
more important and that I can not cope with the emotions that you are facing. This leaves the child abandoned and on their own. Some parents do not attend competitions for these same reasons. These parents might find the skills of a Sports Psychologist helpful to assist them with the many demands of parenting an elite athlete. It is not always the athlete on the field who needs help. 69 WWW.ULTIMATEATHLETEMAGAZINE.COM
After the tournament ends there will be one of two outcomes. The athlete will have won or lost. Both outcomes require skill in handling.
Following the Win: After the athlete wins a big one, your role is to 3 things. First celebrate with them. They need to be taken out to a nice dinner and during the dinner make a small speech about what they did and how proud you are of them. Secondly make sure they are given time off from training. Thirdly make sure you hang the trophy in a public space at home. This serves to remind them of good things and to motivate them onward
Following the Loss: However, what happens when your child has been defeated? All parties involved are feeling down and upset. Parents, at times, can react inappropriately. These negative behaviors can include criticism, anger, resentment and guilt. Parent can also react with pity, blame or hopelessness. Common statements include:
A more positive approach might be to offer a smile, a hug and some solace. Some comforting statements are realistic yet recognizing effort:
You did this/that wrong
Tough match but you hung in there
You didnâ€™t do anything right
That was a tough opponent
After all the time and money , you didnâ€™t even try to win
This brought out the best in you
So sorry you lost You gave it a good try
You poor thing, you lost again Maybe you should quit. This may be too much for you
Initially, one of the best reactions might be to allow quiet time for the athlete to process the loss. I am here to listen if you want to talk
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It is important to give them some forward looking strategies: Letâ€™s talk to your coach and see what he/she can do to help Analysis of the outcome of competition, whether a win or a loss, can always offer insight into performance. Encourage the athlete to first make a list of the things he/she did right, etc Let feelings be aired and give them perspective on the loss by telling them there will be more tournaments to play
WHEN IT COMES TO LACROSSE ! S E L U R T U H X LA fEATURINg:
• WARRIOR • bRINE • AdIdAS E! • ANd MOR
EvERyTHINg TO pLAy THE gAME RIgHT!
huntington 217 East Jericho Tpk. Huntington Station, NY 11746
CHECk OUTT THE LAX HU
massapequa 4161 Merrick Rd. Massapequa, NY 11758
freeport 365 West Sunrise Hwy. Freeport, NY 11520
UA UA Tr aining
Changing the Status Quo
Reassessing the implementation of performance testing for young athletes to avoid injury and improve skills..
Story By Mike Meija / / Photos By Morgan Harrison a coach to have. The problem I have with it is twofold: the
This might sound a little weird coming from a strength and conditioning coach, but I’m really not a big fan of performance testing. Or, I should say, the current way said testing is typically administered at both the middle and high school level. Not that I fail to appreciate the desire to somehow quantify an athlete’s physical capabilities. It’s just that I think most of the “tried and true” tests young athletes are subjected to not only do a pretty poor job of predicting athletic potential, but often place kids at risk of unnecessary injury. Does it really matter, for instance, how explosive a vertical jump a kid has if their landing mechanics make them a prime candidate for blowing out a knee? Or, how many sit-ups they can do inside of a minute if they’re using momentum and jerking their torsos up so forcefully you can almost hear their discs herniating? Call me crazy, but I’m having trouble seeing the value of this little game of “how much can your body withstand?”, all in the name of having some hard and fast numbers to convey to coaches, parents and possible college destinations. Don’t get me wrong; I realize that knowing an athlete’s time in the forty-yard dash, or having at least some idea of their explosive power potential is important information for
tests that are administered often fail to accurately measure the actual demands of the sport (i.e. hockey players being tested in a one mile run- last time I checked, that sport was almost completely anaerobic) and even when they do, are often trained for solely to replicate success in a testing situation. How many kids for example that go to these “speed schools” for 6-8 weeks at a time actually hold on to what they’ve been taught six months down the road? After all, anyone can clean up someone’s 40 yard dash, or pro agility with a few form cues, but the lasting impact that an athlete carries with him or her onto the ﬁeld comes from things like strengthening the muscles responsible for both acceleration and deceleration, correcting postural and/or ﬂexibility imbalances that might be impairing muscular function and imparting a need to continually work on these areas to keep the gains coming. I think that a lot of the problem stems from the fact that many of these tests are still being administered for no other reason than sheer tradition. I mean, hey, if this is how it’s always been done, why change, right? Because too many kids are getting hurt, that’s why! And, the ones who aren’t often wind up picking up bad training habits that increase their chances of becoming injured down the road. That’s why I’ve decided to take a critical look at some of the more popular performance tests that young athletes are routinely subjected to. Besides just pointing out their obvious shortcomings, I’ll offer up what I feel to be some more effective alternatives that carry with them much less risk of injury. They’ll also hopefully help instill better training habits going forward.
The Bench Press: Designed to measure upper body strength, the bench press has long been considered one of the staple lifts when testing athletes of all levels. Many coaches however, myself included, have come to question its application to actual sports performance. After all; as an athlete there aren’t many times when you’ll be lying on your back attempting to push hundreds of pounds off of you. That is, unless of course you’re an offensive lineman who just isn’t very good and continually gets buried by opposing defensive tackles.
AINING At which point, you might want to examine other aspects of your training. All kidding aside though, the lift really doesn’t correlate very well to any viable form of athletic strength expression- making it’s continued appearance in both testing and training protocols all the more confusing. Rather than detail the numerous factors that make this so (i.e. disruption of normal scapulothoracic rhythm, limited core activation due to the position of lying on the bench etc), my issue here is more with the form- or more accurately, lack thereofwith which the test is typically administered. I’ve seen everything from kids using their chests as trampolines to “bounce” the weight back up, to lower backs arching so high off of the bench that you could drive a small automobile beneath them. And of course, my favorite, where the athlete squirms under the bar while contorting
his body in various ways as a couple of spotters bellow out “It’s All You!” Typically, upon ﬁnally getting the bar back to the rack, the athlete jumps up, stoked about his effort and brags to everyone within earshot about “how much he can bench”. Are you kidding me? What are we even measuring here- the kid’s ability to withstand serious injury?
The sad part is not only the fact that this goes on, but that it instills poor lifting habits in these impressionable young athletes. Before you know it, using more weight than they can handle to measure up against their peers becomes the norm, rather than the exception. Needless to say this sets the stage for a whole host of potential injures down the road. So, rather than subject kids to an outdated lift for no other reason than sheer tradition, why not test their pushing strength in a much more functional manner? A push-up test for example, would give a much more accurate gauge of an athlete’s pushing mechanics,
Alternative: The Push-up Test Graded on a pass/ fail basis. The athlete needs to be able to do 10 reps while holding a neutral spine position, at the cadence described above to earn a passing grade. If they alter their spinal position in any way (excessive arching of the lower back, or poking the butt up into the air), or fail to execute the drill at the proper cadence they fail the test.
while also more accurately mimicking a functional movement they might actually use on the ﬁeld of play (i.e. a runner who’s fallen to the ground needing to get back up and into the play). I’m not talking about just any push-up mind you, but one in which the athlete holds a neutral spine position to better engage their core musculature and uses a strict cadence of two-seconds to lower, a one-second pause at the bottom of the movement and a onesecond ascent. Performing the push-ups this way accomplishes a number of objectives: 1. It almost completely eliminates the use of momentum, making it an excellent way to assess upper body strength. 2. It makes athletes appreciate the need to have a strong core, and 3. it dramatically reduces injury potential by keeping kids who have absolutely no business bench pressing away from the bench press!
UA Training The Squat Before I begin my diatribe against the squat, allow me to genuflect for a moment and acknowledge it as “the king of all exercises”, “the greatest strength exercise ever created” and yada, yada, yada. Sarcasm aside for a moment, I should point out that I really do love and respect the squat and completely agree with its placement at the top of the exercise hierarchy. I just hate seeing kids rush into them before they’re ready. I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve assessed a new athlete and he, or she told me that they squat X number of pounds. As you might imagine, they get pretty demoralized when my assessment reveals that they can’t even squat their own body weight properly and as a result, shouldn’t be using any form of external resistance until any existing strength and flexibility imbalances have been addressed. Think about it for a minute; if you can’t squat your own body weight without rounding your back, your knees caving in towards each other, or noticeably shifting your weight to one side as you perform the lift, what sense does it makes to put a loaded barbell on your back? Right, absolutely none! Yet, this is exactly what continues to go on in high school weight rooms all across the country!
Alternative: The Pistol Squat
A much better gauge of lower body strength potential would be a one legged, a.k.a. pistol squat. With these, there’s no throwing unnecessary stress onto the lower back, or knees, or shifting the brunt of the exercise onto your stronger leg. You can either do these, or you can’t. And,
since during most sports activities most of your weight is on one leg at a time, pistol squats carry with them the benefit of lots of functional carryover. To begin, stand on one leg with your other leg held straight out in front of you, about a foot or so off the floor. Next, reach your arms out in front of you as you sit your hips back and begin to squat. Continue descending until you reach your lowest point possible without excessively rounding your back. How far down you actually get will be determined by several factors- including the mobility around your hip and ankle joints, as well as your current level of strength. Most young athletes should at least be able to execute a pistol squat to the parallel position (where their working thigh is parallel to the floor). Advanced trainees may be able to get all the way down to the point where their butt almost touches their Achilles tendon. The thing I like best about these
is that they’re an incredibly humbling exercise. Even athletes who currently squat considerable amounts of weight have trouble doing a single pistol squat properly. This signals a definite need to work on joint mobility and unilateral strength. I usually consider about 5 reps done to at least parallel as a passing grade. Look out for huge strength imbalances on the nondominant leg though.
Hang Clean, or other Olympic style lift
What do you get when you combine growing young bodies that are typically, shall we say, “flexibility challenged” for lack of a better term, with the explosive movement of free weights? Can you say, an injury waiting to happen? Again, I have nothing against the Olympic lifts per se and think that they’re one of the best ways imaginable to improve explosive power development. It’s just that in order to for them to pay off from a risk/reward standpoint, the athlete in question has to have sufficient joint mobility and be absolutely meticulous with their form. Not to burst anyone’s bubble here, but believe me when I tellyou that this is seldom the case. The bottom line is, unless an athlete has been properly instructed as to how to perform these lifts and/or there’s a qualified strength coach supervising them during testing, I just have a hard time advocating their presence in a testing protocol. parallel position of the squat, quickly explode upwards as Alternative: Med BallOverhead Throw the you swing your arms above your head and throw the ball up and I’d much rather see kids tested in the overhead medicine ball throw. It gives you all the explosion of an Olympic lift, without any of the associated danger. You get the vaunted “triple extension” that Olympic lifts are predicated on (extension at the hip, knee and ankle), but you don’t have to worry about the catch posi-
tion of a clean, or the overhead stability required for the snatch- which is where most adolescents falter by the way, due to their subpar ﬂexibility/mobility of the shoulder girdle. With these, you simply hold a medicine ball at its side while standing in a squat position, with your arms extended down towards the ﬂoor. Begin with a rapid descent of the hips as you sit back into a squat position. Immediately upon hitting
slightly back behind you. Shoot for maximal height of the ball and really try to jump off the ground as you throw. Take the best height of three throws as your score. About the only issue you’ll run into with these is selecting the appropriate weight ball. You want to make sure you’re using a ball heavy enough to require you to explode, but not so heavy that you have difﬁculty moving it rapidly. Your best bet is experimenting with several different weight balls and then ensuring that you retest with the same weight ball so you can monitor your progress. Then, when you feel you’re ready, move up to the next level ball.
Sit-ups / pull-ups: To be perfectly honest, I probably could have written the entire article on my disdain for these two tests alone. I dislike the sit-up test because the form with which it’s performed is usually so poor, I fail to see how it measures the endurance capacity of the torso musculature in any viable way. For instance, if you have extremely tight hip flexors- as many young athletes do-you unknowingly have a built in advantage on this test. You’ll be able to fire yourself up and down without using your abdominal muscles very much at all. And yet, this is somehow supposed to demonstrate that you have good “core endurance”? And as far as pull-ups are concerned, I’ve seen so many different variations of this exercise over the years, I’m not even sure what this test is measuring anymore. I mean, which do you think means more-an athlete who does 3 to 4 reps with perfect form, engaging the right muscles throughout the entire duration of the set, or the kid who cranks out 10-12, looking more like a trapeze artist than someone performing a strength test? I know which one I’d pick, but given our societal fascination with young athletes’ “numbers,” I fear that I might be in the minority on this one.
Alternative: Plank / Reverse Push-ups If you really want to measure muscular strength and endurance, at least do it with tests that have more functional application and are harder to cheat. That’s exactly why I’d prefer to see these two tests swapped out for planks and reverse push-ups (a.k.a. inverted rows). The great thing about the plank is that it engages the core musculature in a manner similar to the way you’ll use it during sports participation. Think about it; how many times during practice, or competition do you need to curl your spine up the way you do during crunches and sit-ups? Not many, right? But you often need to brace your core to provide the foundation your limbs need to propel you across the field, court, or pool. To get into a plank position, get down on the floor as if your about to do a pushup, only instead of bracing up on your arms rest your weight on your forearms.
Once there, you’ll want to maintain a good neutral spine position (no excessive arch in your lower back, but don’t allow your lower back to round either). Now, you simply hold for time. The baseline you’re looking for is at least 1520 seconds, although I usually like to see a minimum of 30 seconds to start. At higher level, it’s not uncommon to see athletes holding planks for 2-3 minutesoften while slowly moving limbs to further increase the difficulty level. As far as reverse push-ups go, they offer two major benefits: 1. They de-emphasize the often over-used lats and target the scapular retractors of the shoulder girdle (the muscles that pull the shoulder blades together). This not only helps balance out the strength and stability of the shoulder joint, but it’s a huge help with posture as well, and 2. They’re a lot harder to cheat then pull-ups. Because
your feet are in contact with either the ground, or a bench (depending on how strong you are) it’s virtually impossible to swing your legs upward and create momentum. This means that you’re forced to rely on nothing but upper body and core strength to get you up to the bar. To do these, lie on the ground beneath a bar that’s set at about waist height in a squat rack, or Smith machine. Next, reach up and grab the bar with your arms a little wider than shoulder’s width apart, using a pronated (palms facing your feet) grip. Begin by lifting your hips off the ground so that only the backs of your heels are in contact with the floor and your body forms a straight line. Once there, pull yourself up towards the bar by pinching your shoulder blades together until your chest nearly touches it. Hold for a second, and then slowly lower until your arms are straight and repeat. Record the maximal number of reps you can do.
Okay, I’m just going to come right out and say it: how many competitive sports do you know of where the athletes run anywhere near a mile at a time? Baseball? Nope, even legging out a triple only requires running approximately 300 feet. Football? If you’re lucky enough to break away from the pack, the best you can hope for is about 100 yards? Tennis? Come on, what’s a really long rally last-maybe 30-40 seconds? That’s a whole lot different than several minutes! The point being, there’s just no basis for using the mile to test an athlete’s “endurance” when more often than not, the type of endurance they’re going to have to exhibit in their sport is of a completely different type. Take hockey players for instance, who are typically out on the ice for anywhere between 45 seconds and two minutes at a time- often pushing the limits of their anaerobic endurance. Do you really think that
testing their time in the mile is going to give you an accurate prediction of their ability to withstand multiple shifts? A much better test would be the 300 yard shuttle run. This is a grueling test, where the athlete has to complete six complete trips between two agility cones spaced 25 yards apart. This test is typically administered at least twice with a 90 second to 2 minute rest interval between the two attempts. You then look to see what kind of drop off, if any there is between the two tests. It’s a tremendous measure of anaerobic endurance and is far more applicable to a number of sports including tennis, lacrosse, basketball and of course, ice hockey. Hopefully, I’ve raised a few questions in your mind as to the validity of some of these “time-honored” measures of athletic potential- at least as they pertain to younger participants. The truth
is, for kids whose bodies are not yet fully matured, the administration of certain types of testing presents far more problems than it does solutions. Exposing kids to the risk of serious injury, while promoting a “numbers first” mentality that instills poor training habits going forward just doesn’t make any sense. Which is precisely why we as parents, coaches and trainers need to band together and try to change the status quo. Let’s face it, given the hyper-competitive atmosphere that currently permeates youth sports, the call for assessing the physical abilities of young athletes only figures to increase. The least we can do is try and help ensure that in assessing those abilities, we’re not putting these kids in harm’s way.
Story By: Diana Rodriguez Photos Courtesy of: Hofstra University
Pro C Pro Corner: NFL Draft
hurry up ...and wait
Giants, Jets Draft Picks on HolD DurinG nfl lockout By Joe Pietaro NFL Draft war rooms prepare long and hard for the opportunity to make the best of their team’s selections. Front office personnel, scouts and coaches bang heads hoping to formulate a plan and execute it properly. But there are circumstances when all of that goes out the window. Take the New York Giants, for instance. They went into the 2011 NFL Draft looking to make a serious upgrade in their offensive line and had their sights set on Mike Pouncey. But the Miami Dolphins picked him four spots ahead of them and Big Blue found themselves at number 19 with a few different options. Draft for need or take the best player available? That’s an easy choice when someone like Prince Amukamara is still available. “We were really surprised that he was there when we picked,” general manager Jerry Reese said. “We thought he would get picked a lot higher than that. But it happens like that sometimes in the draft. Guys can fall right into your lap.” Amukamara may have felt excited to find himself in the Big Apple, but even a rookie knows the importance of the labor issues that are threatening the way we spend our Sundays come the fall. “I have great confidence that both sides are
o rner “I have great confIdence
that both sIdes are goIng to get a deal done and when they do, I’ll be ready to come In and work.” going to get a deal done and when they do, I’ll be ready to come in and work.” Elation and frustration were both present when Tom Coughlin spoke of the latest highprofile addition to his roster. “He (Amukamara) was extremely happy to be a New York Giant and looking forward to the great challenge,” the head coach said. “He impressed me an awful lot by the quality of the young man.” But Coughlin also added, “We did not give him a playbook. We gave him some instructions and some technical things that we wanted, but not a book.” What is already a tense time for draftees is magnified with the uncertainty surrounding the game. There can be no team meetings or even contract negotiations, let alone rookie mini camps. Jets first round pick Muhammad Wilkerson (30th overall) is looking forward to his first professional offseason training program, even though he has no idea when it will actually begin. “It would mean a lot to me,” the Temple product said. “I want to get things rolling. I don’t want everything to be fast. The sooner the better to get to learning the playbook and adapting to everything around the organization.” Coughlin had only a brief window of opportunity to speak to the draftees and gave them some sound advice. “What I told them was exactly what I would tell you in that you had better be in great shape because when this
whole thing is completed, it will be very, very quickly back on the field and you had better be in shape to be able to come in here and have a camp.” The usual flurry of activity following seven rounds of drafting players did not occur this time around. The pool of undrafted free agents remains untouched because of the labor issues, something that comes as a surprising period of inactivity to Marc Ross. “As of right now, I think we can’t do it,” the Giants Director of College Scouting said regarding signing
Pro C Pro Corner: NFL Draft
someone from this group. “Just like the weather – (we will) see if it changes. Who knows what is going to happen tomorrow? Hopefully they will tell us we can do it, but as of right now, we can’t. We really hope we can do it.” Reese had a similar take on the situation. “It is a little strange,” he said. “We’ll restack the board to see who the free agents are that we want to target when it’s time, when we are permitted to do that. We’ll just ride it out and see what happens. “When they say go, we’ll be ready to go.”
BAC K ISSUES?
W W W. U l t i m a t e a t h l e t e m a g a z i n e . c o m / s t o r e