Monday, March 01, 2010

Writing Comes Naturally to Washington Swim Star

Many students come to Washington College hoping the writing program will help them achieve their dreams of becoming published authors. For Jenna Moore '12, that dream became a reality during her first year of college, when Dorrance Publishing Co. printed The Creators: Book 1, The Universal Wars. It's the first book in a series she began writing in 7th grade.

"I've been writing since I was really little. I actually wrote the second and third books first, and then went back and wrote the first to fill in some of the basics you need to know about the characters going forward."

She started the series while daydreaming during class; her 7th grade English teacher encouraged her to keep writing and offered feedback on Jenna's work. When the drafts were finished, Jenna's parents urged her to get them published.

"I'm kind of shy about promoting my work like that," she said, but her dad found a list of publishers to approach and the first, Dorrance, wanted Jenna's story.

"It was really surprising, actually. I was so overwhelmed that they said yes!" Jenna said. "I'm hoping this one will do well so they want the others."

Her fantasy series isn't the only thing the creative writing student has in print. As a finalist in a 2006 International Poetry Society contest, two of Jenna's poems were published in an anthology, "Forever Spoken: Centers of Expression."

Jenna chose to attend Washington College because of the opportunities to develop both her fiction and poetry.

"My parents and I were always thinking academics first, and there's really no better place to go for writing," she said. "The teachers are really helpful. I think my poetry's better already."

Another important factor in her decision was Washington College's Division III athletic program. Jenna wanted to attend a school with a strong swimming program that would still allow her to pursue her other interests. "If I really wanted to write," she reasoned, "I needed the flexibility of a D-III school."

Given that flexibility, Jenna also joined the varsity rowing team. If that sounds like a lot to juggle, it is. In college, "It's tougher to find time for writing, especially with two sports," Jenna admitted, but that hasn't deterred her from working on the next books in her series.

"Writing is a good release for me, to get away and relax and not think about studying or races or anything else," she said. And if she doesn't get to write as often as she'd like, it's because she's taking advantage of so many other opportunities at the college.

"I can't imagine fitting anywhere else."

Friday, February 05, 2010

Alesha Sisco Balances Basketball, Softball and Books

by Eric Thomas, Harrisburg Patriot-News

Alesha Sisco knows at some point she will have to give up the hectic college lifestyle for the real world.

For the time being, though, she's content playing the role of multi-sport star and international business major at Dickinson College.

Sisco, a junior, shares top-scoring duties on the Red Devils' women's basketball team, scoring 13.3 points per outing. She also leads in rebounds with 7.3 boards per game, helping Dina Henry's team to a 13-5 mark through Monday.

Dickinson is in the thick of the Centennial Conference race at 9-5, but is three games behind leader McDaniel.

On the softball field, Sisco is an infielder for a Red Devils softball team which finished fifth in the conference standings last spring. Sisco batted .315 with 12 RBIs.

In the classroom, the junior from the Allentown area also minors in economics.

In other words, there's never a shortage of things to do.

Sisco maintains between one and three classes a day, depending on her schedule, some during the evenings that run from 4 to 7 p.m. Then, it's off to the gym to work out with the basketball team.

When she's not in the classroom or the gym, Sisco is getting some batting practice in to prepare for the softball season, which opens Feb. 28 -- a date Sisco hopes to still be playing basketball, even though she loves both sports.

"The key is being able to take advantage of the time you aren't doing anything, and that's when I will get a lot of work done," Sisco said. "I know the softball schedule in the spring [ahead of time]. My coach [Matt Richwine] is very lenient with that. If I am able to come to a Sunday practice and take some reps, he will let me do that.

"During basketball, I play basketball until that is finished, and then I jump right into softball."

Sometimes the schedule can be a little too hectic. Sisco found that out when she was a freshman. At the end of her first season, she missed the softball season opener. Once basketball season concluded, she boarded a plane and flew to Arizona to meet her teammates for spring training.

But when you love what you do and play it with the passion Sisco does, it isn't a problem.

"I guess I just love playing both sports, and the coaches allowed me to do so, and I love the teams, my teammates and it's a lot of fun," Sisco said. "I never really had a formal sit-down with both coaches and explained to them when I was coming here and looking into the school at the beginning. I told them I was interested in playing both. They both seemed open to it and were willing to work with my schedule."

As an international business major, the college recommends spending a semester abroad. Sisco opted to not partake in that program because of her sports schedule.

"I was originally torn as to whether I wanted to go, but I figured missing the season, coming in halfway would be really difficult," she said. "There are also opportunities to go abroad in the summer which I'm thinking about."

The Red Devils women's basketball team is traveling to Costa Rica this summer, so Sisco may get her chance.

Still, in the back of her mind, someday she knows she will be an office, somewhere perhaps across the globe -- not running on the hardwood or digging out grounders in cleats with a glove.

"It will be a huge change in my life, and it's going to be sad, but I've known that time was going to come for a while, so I think I will be ready to do some new things in my life," she said.

But for now, Sisco plays on.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Balancing Success on the Field and in Class

George Vescey of the New York Times writes that one of Texas QB's Colt McCoy's secrets to success in the classroom is to sit in the front row. He wanted to show he was paying attention ... and led to a 3.2 GPA and a trip to New York as one of 16 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, given by the National Football Foundation to the top scholar-athlete in the United States. Blaine Westemeyer, from DIII's Augustana (Ill.) College, has a 3.93 grade point average in biochemistry. He noted that his coaches were perhaps more understanding than the DI coaches when he traveled to Utah to take a program in cellular protein research in Utah.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

NCAA Postgraduate Internship Opportunities

Applications for the 2010-11 NCAA Postgraduate Internship Program are due by December 13.

Interested individuals may apply for one of 19 positions in a 12-month internship program at the NCAA national office in Indianapolis beginning in June 2010.

The NCAA Postgraduate Internship Program provides on-the-job learning experiences for college graduates from four-year NCAA member institutions who express an interest in pursuing a career in intercollegiate athletics administration.

Positions are paid with benefits. Opportunities exist in the areas of:

* Administrative services
* Branding and communications (brand strategies and events, public and media relations, publishing/new media)
* Championships
* Corporate and broadcast alliances
* Division I men’s and women’s basketball
* Diversity and inclusion
* Educational affairs
* Enforcement services
* Governance
* Academic and membership affairs/student-athlete reinstatement
* The NCAA Eligibility Center

For more information, including a timeline for selecting intern candidates, contact Kimberly Ford, NCAA associate director for diversity and inclusion, at

Friday, November 20, 2009

Swarthmore's Celestin Combines Dance, Soccer

Junior Philippe Celestin and No. 7 Swarthmore College men's soccer team were the subject of a feature story in Thursday's Philadelphia Inquirer. The story focuses on the balancing act that Celestin - who scored the Garnet's game-winning goal on Sunday and performed a stomp music piece at the College's Rhythm and Motion performance - and many Swarthmore students face on a daily basis, as well as the recent success of the men's soccer team.

The article was written by Sam Lacy '11, while photos were taken by Hanna Kozlowska '13 and Jake Mrozewski '11 and video by Jared Brown.

Friday, November 06, 2009

No Money, No Problems: More Division III Perks

this article appeared in the November 5, 2009 edition of the Swarthmore Phoenix.


After reading a Rick Reilly column on comparing the life of USC’s star freshman quarterback Matt Barkley with that of another USC freshman student, I began to reflect about my own experience as a scholar-athlete.

From reading Reilly’s column, it’s instantly clear that Barkley already lives the life of a superstar.

How could he not? The kid is 19 years old and is seen every week by hundreds of thousands of fans on the biggest stage in college football. There are already “mock drafts” that predict Barkley will be picked in the first round of the NFL Draft in two years.

Regardless of the fame, the potential big bills contracts, and the tremendous opportunities that are a reality for Barkley everyday of his life, I would never trade my experience as a scholar-athlete for his.

Sure, the cynics among you out there are probably saying this is all bogus; who wouldn’t want a life like Matt Barkley?

I’m not saying it isn’t a sweet deal to be a star quarterback at a storied university with a tremendous future. I’m just trying to say that the life of a Division III athlete isn’t half bad either.

With only one spring season left in my collegiate athletic career, it’s no secret that I’m in the autumn of my experience as a Division III lacrosse player. Looking back over my time at Swarthmore, a few things immediately come to mind when thinking about how my college experience has been different than Barkley’s.

I don’t speak on behalf of many Division I athletes by any means, but whenever I come into contact with Division I players (coaching camps, mutual friends, etc.) I always ask them if they like playing at the Division I level. Nine times out of 10, I hear “not really” or “I guess.”

Again, this is only a small sample of players I have come into contact with, but whenever people ask me if I like playing lacrosse in college my answer is unquestioningly, “I love every minute of it.” At the end of the day, if it isn’t fun, then why do it?

The one thing I truly believe makes Division III the best level of sports to participate in is the practices. Some of my fondest memories from college come from just being on the turf with 30 of my closest friends, watching the pieces of our team come together as a whole.

The overarching feeling, though, is that being out there is just plain fun. Even when we get fired up at each other, even when the snow is really coming down around us and even when I don’t have a great practice, I’d still rather be out on the field with my teammates than anywhere else.

I feel tremendously privileged to feel the way about playing a sport that I do, because I’m sure for many athletes like Matt Barkley, it isn’t all that fun.

I certainly don’t have to put up with national media outlets or disgruntled fans maligning me on the Internet after a bad loss. I simply get to enjoy the sport. Let’s not get confused though. Division III isn’t just about having fun, much like my Phoenix columnist brother Andrew Greenblatt noted in his column about D-III athletics. We are real athletes here to win games.

The real love for the game as Division III athletes comes out in the offseason. Swarthmore isn’t USC; our team doesn’t have a platoon of strength and conditioning coaches watching over our shoulders to see who’s improving and who needs to get in gear. We do it because we are highly motivated people who get a lot of intrinsic value out of making ourselves and our teammates better.

I see scholar-athletes of all sports working hard down in the weight room or out on the track and you can see it in their faces that they enjoy it.

You might not consciously admit that you like the feeling of burning lungs or aching muscles, but the bond between teammates that is forged through pain and hard work in the offseason is incredible.

You put in the work because you love the game and you love your team. It’s not even a hard decision to make. Winning games and being a committed team in the offseason doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive with enjoying the game for what it is.

Being part of a sport at this school has been one of the best experiences of my life.

Sure, I’m not going to draw a multi-million dollar salary, I’ve never met Will Ferrell on the field after one of my games and kids don’t constantly snap photos of me on their phones (that I know of).

But I don’t envy Matt Barkley at all. I can’t even imagine the pressure that poor kid has to face every week, but I can certainly imagine that it makes him lose a little bit of the love for the game.

Fortunately as D-III athletes, we typically get to avoid the distractions that constantly attack large programs at large universities. We just have the sport, plain and simple.

When we are in season, I look forward to that time each day when I head down to the field house because there is nowhere I’d rather be than down on that field with my team.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dickinson's Mitchell Does More Than Break Records

Mitchell doing more than breaking records
Dickinson signal caller helps to fight cancer one yard at a time ... while winning.

By Andy Sandrik, Sentinel Reporter

Last updated: Friday, October 16, 2009 10:26 PM EDT

When all is said and done in the football career of Dickinson College quarterback Ian Mitchell, he will go down as the most productive quarterback in the history of the Division III school.

The numbers don’t lie, Mitchell is a really, really good quarterback. Career accomplishments include:

* 2,214 career rushing yards. That’s the most-ever in Dickinson and Centennial Conference history.
* A Centennial Conference record of 11 rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a season. That record was established this season and there are still at least four games remaining. The career record is 27 touchdowns — Mitchell has 24.
* Mitchell is the first Centennial Conference quarterback to rush for 2,000-plus yards and pass for 4,000-plus yards.

“My teammate Mike Maxwell says that I’m a running back that can throw the ball,” Mitchell said with a laugh. “Whenever I started setting some of these records, coach (Darwin) Breaux told me congratulations and that he was extremely proud of me. And then he told me that if I want this to continue, I need to focus on the team and the individual records will come on their own.”

With every yard gained by Mitchell, he comes that much closer to even more individual records. But college football isn’t all about personal glory for Mitchell, who was recruited by schools such as Richmond, James Madison, Lehigh, Lafayette and even given an opportunity to walk on at Florida.

After losing a high school friend, Evan Brady, to cancer, Mitchell has made it a mission to help support cancer victims.

With every yard Mitchell gains, on the ground or through the air, another cancer-stricken child can smile.

By getting people and businesses to pledge money for each yard gained, Mitchell has raised roughly $60,000 for Evanfest, a charity created in Brady’s honor to raise money for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Mitchell has raised this money in three years by doing nothing but wisely marketing himself and playing the game he loves.

“I’ve gotten lucky, this has spread through word of mouth and the media,” Mitchell said.

Those around Biddle Field last year for a Dickinson football game may have noticed Mitchell’s long, blond hair spilling out the back of his helmet. That, too, has been donated to charity. He had his hair donated to ‘Locks for Love.’

“I was told that an 8-year-old girl now has beautiful, blonde hair,” Mitchell said.

Beautiful blonde hair and charity aside, Mitchell is a great football player on a team contending for a conference title.

The Red Devils are 5-1 after last Saturday’s 23-12 loss to the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays.

“We played a good team on Saturday,” Breaux said. “They were as good a team as we’ve faced all year. Field goals didn’t get the job done, we need to put the ball in the end zone.”

All hope is not lost for the Red Devils. They have a bye week this Saturday and follow with games against Gettysburg (2-4), Muhlenberg (2-3), Juniata (0-6) and Ursinus (2-3).

If the Red Devils can run the table, they could earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Division III playoffs and may even have a chance at winning the Centennial Conference.

“This is a perfect time for a bye week,” Mitchell said. “After a loss, you feel a little bit more sore than usual and it takes a little longer to get past the game. Having this extra week is very crucial.”

With the next four opponents sporting a combined record of 6-16, winning out is a reasonable goal, especially if Mitchell and the offense can get back to their touchdown-scoring ways.

Before last week’s game, the Red Devils were averaging 35.8 points per game to rank second in the Centennial Conference. Mitchell has led the way with another exciting season. Mitchell has led the team with his arm (83-of-138, 952 yards, 6 TDs, 4 INTs) and his legs (85 rushes, 655 yards, 11 TDs, 7.7 avg.).

Of course, Mitchell will be the first person to point out his teammates.

“Our core group has been together for a long time, we all know each other’s moves,” Mitchell said.

“There’s nothing like having an All-American receiver in Pat O’Connor. With a player like that and a quarterback that can run and some good running backs. There is so much that the defense has to focus on. The line doesn’t get much recognition, but I’d like to say that the offensive line holds those same records that I have.”

One thing’s for sure, things wouldn’t be the same without Mitchell.

“He’s one of the most athletic kids we’ve recruited and the most athletic quarterback we’ve had,” Breaux said. “It’s a team effort, but there’s no question, Ian is the trigger man.”

Already a noted philanthropist and an elite football player, the Religion Major plans on becoming a grad assistant for Dickinson after this season.

“I’ve realized that my future is not in the NFL,” Mitchell said. “If I have to stop playing football after this year, coaching football is probably the next best thing.”

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ward's Dream Continues at D-III

Jon Ward, a recent graduate of Parkland (Pa.) High School, could have been a big-time Division I basketball recruit. He found out that D-I is a big business ... a cutthroat business ... one that left a bitter taste in his mouth. In this story from Keith Groller of the Allentown Morning Call, Ward reflects on his D-I recruiting experience, he discovers that Ursinus, the Centennial Conference, and Division III may be just the place for him to continue following his dream.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Twitter and the Centennial Conference

From the NCAA News

to the Centennial SAAC ... what do you think?

"Twitter and college athletics may seem like an unlikely pairing, but dozens of coaches, conferences and athletics departments are aggressively using the microblogging Web service to keep pace with a new generation of prospects and fans.

Twitter, which limits users to 140-character posts known as “tweets,” is designed to provide a quick glance into what a person – or entity – is doing, thinking or feeling. Twitter doesn’t require an Internet connection and can be accessed with a cell phone, with the communication appearing as a text message. The service is free.

The Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which stridently opposed text-messaging between coaches and prospects, hasn’t taken an official position on Twitter yet and will discuss the technology at its July meeting in Denver. The SAAC itself uses Twitter to communicate with members and potential members.

Chair Matt Baysinger, a former Kansas student-athlete, said that some of the SAAC’s main concerns with text-messaging – the cost and the lack of professionalism – are mitigated with Twitter. To receive tweets to a mobile phone, a prospect would have to sign up for Twitter, “follow” a particular coach and have the coach follow the prospect in return, and agree to have messages sent to a mobile device. Baysinger said it’s likely that people who would go through all of that would not be worried about the cost. He also said the frequent lack of professionalism in the medium is mitigated by the absence of personalization.

“At this point, I don’t feel Twitter is a personalized medium. It’s meant to be public information. It’s meant for everyone, which puts it in a different category from a text message,” Baysinger said."

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Player's View of an ACL Injury

McDaniel College basketball player Katherine Restrepo has undergone two reconstructive anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgeries. In today's Reading Eagle, she writes about her experience, why women are at a greater risk for ACL injuries than men, and preventive measures that can be taken to help avoid the injury.

"Pivot. Pop. Scream. This sequence of events represents the cry of someone who has torn an anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL.

ACL tears happen more frequently as high school and collegiate sports become more competitive.

Almost every athlete has seen teammates sidelined due to an ACL injury, but it's hard to understand the major setback it creates until you suffer a torn ACL. Throughout my high school basketball career, at least three of my teammates tore their ACL's. Never once did I think this injury would get in the way of playing the sports I love. Within a span of three years, I tore both of mine.

In fact, I am recovering from my second ACL reconstruction surgery. This past basketball season at McDaniel College, I was down for the count."