Archive for the ‘Following Up’ Category

Former York College players dominate the Capital Athletic Conference Silver Anniversary Men’s Basketball Team.

Three-time first-team all-star and two-time CAC Player of the Year Chad McGowan leads a conference-best seven members from York. McGowan, a Dallastown High School graduate, was also the CAC Rookie of the Year in 2005.

Other Spartans named to the Silver Anniversary team who were CAC Player of the Year award winners include Nick Brady (2010) and Paul Kouvaris (2012). Jeff Mann (1991-93) and Andy O’Brien (2001-03) joined McGowan as three-time first-team All-CAC players for the Spartans. Brady and O’Brien are Delone Catholic High School graduates. The other York players honored were Dan Johnson (1995) and Dave Martins (2000).

No other CAC team had more than four players on the Silver Anniversary Team.

Entering its 25th year of varsity competition, the CAC selected a Silver Anniversary Team in 19 championship sports, primarily based on season-ending conference awards as voted by the conference coaches. The Silver Anniversary Men’s Basketball Team features 25 standouts.

Northeastern setter Luke Braswell was has officially signed his National Letter of Intent to play men’s volleyball at Penn State.

He will join the Nittany Lions at the start of the 2016 season. Braswell had previously verbally committed to PSU.

The 6-foot, 5-inch Braswell helped Northeastern to back-to-back PIAA state championships in the Class AA division. Coached by Matt Wilson, Braswell earned 2014 all-state honors. He also played with the USA junior national A2 team during the summer of 2014. Braswell’s brother, Stephen, is a sophomore outside hitter at Saint Francis University.

“Anytime you have an incoming setter with multiple state championships on his resume you know you’re getting someone who understands what it takes to be successful at this level,” Penn State coach Mark Pavlik said. “Luke also comes from a solid high school coaching background.”

Penn State men’s volleyball is set to open the 2015 season on the road at the Outrigger Invitational on Jan. 8-9 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Widely regarded as one of the top early-season tournaments, the Nittany Lions will make their 20th appearance in the annual event with matchups against UC Irvine and Hawaii.

The Lions are traditionally ranked among the top men’s volleyball programs in the nation.

By STEVE HEISER
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Shea Wassel has helped York College get off to a 2-0 start this season. The 6-foot, 1-inch senior is averaging 13.5 points and 15.5 rebounds per game.

Shea Wassel has helped York College get off to a 2-0 start this season. The 6-foot, 1-inch senior is averaging 13.5 points and 15.5 rebounds per game. (JOHN A. PAVONCELLO — jpavoncello@yorkdispatch.com)

Success can sometimes be taken for granted.

You come to expect it, rather than celebrate it.

And you forget how much blood, sweat and tears went into building it.

Then you get a reminder — a much-needed reminder — that causes you to step back and reflect on often overlooked accomplishments.

That reminder came Tuesday morning, when the Capital Athletic Conference announced its Women’s Basketball Silver Anniversary Team. The league is celebrating its 25th year this season and is naming silver anniversary teams in all of its sports.

The 25-person women’s basketball team includes a whopping seven former York College players — meaning 28 percent of the silver anniversary players are former Spartans. No other program had more than five.

The Spartans who were recognized are familiar names to local hoop nuts: Mandy Crabbs, 2004; Kristen Daly, 2008; Kristin Haley, 2014; Brittany Hicks, 2014; Heather Kessler, 2005; April Sparkman, 2012; and Keli Ward, 2009. All seven left lasting legacies on the York College women’s program. But you may notice that all seven played since the turn of the century.

There’s a reason for that. York College women’s basketball hasn’t always been the powerhouse it is today.

Building a program: Back in the 1990s, the Spartans typically struggled to compile winning seasons. During its first seven years in the CAC, the Spartan women had just two winning campaigns, and they were both 13-12 teams. The program’s overall mark during that time frame was 80-93, a .462 winning percentage.

Then Betsy Witman arrived as the head coach in 1997. The former Hanover High School and James Madison University standout came to York after four seasons as an assistant at Millersville University.

It didn’t take her long to make an impact. After an 11-14 record in her first year, Witman did not have another losing season until 2004-2005. She then ran off four more winning seasons, culminating with a standout 27-3 mark in 2008-2009.

Witman

Witman

Following a 12-15 rebuilding season in 2009-2010, Witman’s crew reeled off four more winning seasons, including three 20-victory campaigns in the last three years. That includes last year’s stellar 26-3 CAC champion outfit.

Overall, entering her 18th season, Witman is 296-193 at York, a .605 winning percentage. In her last three years, the Spartans are even better, going 70-16, good for an .813 winning percentage.

After losing four starters from last year’s team, there was speculation that York could struggle this season. But they’re off to a 2-0 start after winning the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic over the weekend.

It’s become clear that Witman — a four-time CAC Coach of the Year — knows what she’s doing. She’s recruits good players and coaches them up once they arrive in York.

Local flavor: It helps that many of her better players were once stars at central Pennsylvania high schools, which helps to generate local interest.

Hicks, for example, was a York Catholic grad, while Crabbs came from Littlestown and Daly hailed from Trinity. And it looks like another area grad, Susquehannock’s Katie Wagner, may be poised to join that list. In her first two games at York, the freshman is averaging 13.0 points and five rebounds per game.

It shouldn’t be all that surprising that Witman can attract local talent. After all, Witman is one of the better female basketball players to ever emerge from York County, after piling up more than 1,000 career points at both Hanover High and James Madison.

Now, however, Witman has also established herself as one of the better basketball coaches — male or female — to come out of these parts. The record she’s compiled, the players she’s produced and the accolades she’s garnered are proof of that.

Her program’s success has come to be expected, but it shouldn’t be overlooked.

Sometimes, we just need to be reminded of that.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@yorkdispatch.com.

Dallastown High School graduate George Christas, a senior defensive back at Lock Haven University, has earned a spot on the All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Second Team.

On Saturday at California, Christas capped his career with a bang. He finished with a game-high 10 tackles and put an exclamation point on his all-conference season with an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown.

The 10 tackles marked the fifth time this season where Christas recorded 10 or more in a game. In Week 6, he made a career-high 17, including 13 solo stops.

Christas finished the season with 100 tackles, the most in a single season for a Bald Eagle since 2002. His 100 tackles were the fourth most in the PSAC during the regular season and his 9.1 tackles per game ranked fifth in the league.

He finished the season with four interceptions, nine pass breakups, 6.5 tackles for loss and one sack.

The 2014 Preseason All-American finished his career with 13 interceptions, tying him for fifth most in school history.

 

York High graduate Jordan Zackery finished his career with 262 receptions at Franklin & Marshall University and set the Centennial Conference career reception mark that was previously held by Johns Hopkins’ Dan Wodicka.

Zackery set the record in F&M’s season-ending 26-14 loss to Gettysburg. Zackery finished that game with seven receptions for 45 yards.

The former Bearcat finished his senior season with 71 catches for 718 yards (10.1 yards per catch). He had six TD catches. He also 11 kickoff returns for 281 yards (25.5 yards per return) and 15 punt returns for 164 yards (10.9 yards per return). The 5-foot, 7-inch 165-pounder finished with 1,165 all-purpose yards (116.5 yards per game). He led F&M in all of those categories.

F&M finished 5-5.

Dover High School graduate Sammie Strausbaugh, a junior on the Jacksonville University women’s volleyball team, was named the Atlantic-Sun Conference Player of the Year on Wednesday.

The 5-foot, 8-inch outside hitter was also named to the All-Atlantic Sun First Team.

“It’s a great honor for Sammie to be named Player of the Year from the coaches,” Jacksonville head coach Julie Darty said. “They recognize how hard she has worked to get to how good she is and what she has done for Jacksonville volleyball. She came down (from Pennsylvania) and left her mark on the school, as well as the conference, bringing this program to the forefront. I know if we as a team continue to work as hard as she has over her career, we are going to continue to share in the success.”

Strausbaugh earned her first A-Sun Player of the Year award after leading the NCAA Division I league in kills and kills per set. It marks the second-straight year that she has been a unanimous choice for the all-conference first team. A three-time player-of-the-week selection this year, Strausbaugh was the only player in the league to 500 total kills. Her 4.73 kills per set average also led the league. She ranks among the top-15 players in NCAA Division I in both categories.

“It’s a great icing on the cake moment for me after all my college career,” Strausbaugh said. “It feels really good to have that respect from the coaches. It feels great to be a JU student-athlete and achieve these awards to get the school recognition. I definitely have had so much support from back home, and it means a lot to me to accomplish this for the many that have supported me for all my career.”

Strausbaugh and the rest of the Dolphins are back in action Thursday night when they take on North Florida, at 7:30 p.m. Fans can watch the entire match live on ESPN3.

Jacksonville is 16-13 overall and 7-7 in the Atlantic-Sun.

By PATRICK STROHECKER
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In Charlie Parker’s four years at Millersville University, there wasn’t a whole lot that he didn’t accomplish on the basketball court.

After playing in his final game for the Marauders in 2008, he finished second in program history in points (1,949) and steals (288) and fourth in assists (454). That goes along with his four All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East Division First Team selections and two PSAC East Player of the Year honors. He was also a two-time NCAA Division II All-American, not to mention being named PSAC East Rookie of the Year in 2004-05.

Parker flourished under head coach Fred Thompson, but to define exactly what propelled him to become one of the program’s best players ever is hard for him to answer, even now.

Parker

Parker

He was a small-town kid who always had aspirations of playing professional basketball, but was always doubted by those around him. He had to attend prep school following his graduation from Kennard-Dale High School because he wasn’t eligible to play Division I basketball by the NCAA. He had to turn down D-I offers when he was at prep school, or else risk sitting out a year.

But it was that year at St. Thomas More Prep, in Oakdale, Connecticut, where Parker saw a transformation in himself as a basketball player.

“I always tell people that going to prep school changed me,” Parker said. “Because Kennard-Dale, we had a pretty good year my senior year, but it wasn’t a great program at the time and I really felt like I learned a lot at prep school. Pretty much everyone on my team went Division I. Everybody we played against that year were going to schools in the ACC, Big East, the Big Ten and conferences like that … So that’s what made me so successful my first year at Millersville because I was used to playing against tough competition.”

That competition may have been what got Parker ready for college, but it is also what molded him into a player who would soon get paid to play basketball.

Pro career: Following his four years at Millersville, Parker made the jump to pro basketball by playing in the NBA Developmental League.

For years, the league has been affiliated with the NBA as a minor league system, but it’s rarely used as a feeder system, like in the NHL or Major League Baseball. But, if there is one similarity between the D-League and the other minor league systems, it’s that the lifestyle isn’t glamorous. Pay isn’t great and the road trips and the schedules area a grind.

Parker lived that life for the first two years out of college, having a brief stint with the Reno Bighorns and then playing much of those two years with the Los Angeles D-Fenders. In his third year out of school, he was one of the last players cut by the Erie Bayhawks, leaving him without a team for that season. Parker did play semi-pro basketball that year, but it wasn’t how he envisioned his life after college.

So he packed his bags and headed overseas, determined to continue living out his dream of playing pro basketball, first in Iceland and then in Denmark.

“A lot of the opportunities that I got were very random and I look at it as I was fortunate to get the opportunities,” Parker said.

For Americans playing overseas, the key is to play for a good team, according to Parker. It leads to more opportunities to sustain your career, while also allowing the player to make more money. And for the first time since his days in Millersville, Parker found a good team during his time in Denmark.

“I played for a team in Denmark that won the championship,” he said. “And I had an agreement with the general manager that they were going to re-sign me back to the team.”

Only the team didn’t. With an interim coach in place, one who had different ideas and players in mind, Parker was again without a team. He faced a tough life decision — give up playing the game he so dearly loved, or continue to fight to play pro basketball.

For Parker, the decision was easy.

“I really just thought about the future and life in general,” he said. “I didn’t have to give up playing. I very easily could’ve continued to play, but over the years, the issue I had was that I never really had an agent I could trust or an agent that was really helping me get opportunities.”

Coaching life: While Parker made up his mind to retire from playing basketball professionally, he wasn’t completely set on giving up on the game all together.

With his passion for basketball still burning deep, he turned his attention to coaching the sport. And what better place to start than back at the school where he excelled so much?

“I always knew that (coaching) was what I was going to do when I was done playing, I just didn’t know it would be that soon,” Parker said.

Now, at 29 years old, Parker is back at Millersville for his second year as an assistant coach, again under the watchful eye of his former coach.

Thompson, who is now in his 17th season with the Marauders, was the guy who gave Parker the chance to grow his game as a player and now he’s the same guy who is giving him a shot at kick-starting his coaching career.

“I know what (Thompson) likes, I know what he doesn’t like,” Parker said. “I know what he’s looking for out of the players, so I’m kind of that bridge and the gap between player and coach where hopefully I can help the players develop and grow, not only in basketball, but in his system.”

The York County product is also getting the opportunity to guide some of the area’s top, young talent, in brothers Kelvin and Tavon Parker, who are both York High grads.

Kelvin, now a senior, is one of the Marauders top players, while Tavon, is working toward getting back to being academically eligible in his second year at Millersville.

If there was any guy who the players should look up to at Millersville, it’s Parker. He knows a thing or two about what it takes to be successful at the school and under Thompson.

And if there’s any doubt, then they just need to check the record books for reassurance.

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at pstrohecker@yorkdispatch.com.

Red Lion High School graduate Ali Posey and her York College teammate, Katie Petrillo, have earned Longstreth/NFHCA Division III Second Team All-South Region honors as announced by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association on Monday.

They become the first Spartans to earn NFHCA All-Region honors since April McFarland in 2008.

Posey, a freshman, led the team with 28 points on a team-high 12 goals with four assists. She led all Capital Athletic Conference freshmen in total points, goals and game-winning goals. Her point total ranked seventh in the conference, while she ranked sixth in goals and tied for first with four game-winners. She was the CAC Rookie of the Year.

Petrillo, a senior defender, ranked seventh in the nation with a career-high nine defensive saves, in addition to leading the CAC with that total. Her nine defensive saves also rank second in York history for a single season.

York Catholic High School graduate Gary Laucks will play his final regular-season home game on Saturday for Bryant University.

The 6-foot, 3-inch, 185-pounder is a wideout for the Bulldogs, who compete on the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision level (formerly Division I-AA).

Laucks has played in nine of Bryant’s 10 games this season. Bryant has compiled an 8-2 overall record, including a 4-1 mark in the Northeast Conference.

For the season, Laucks has one catch for nine yards and one tackle. In 40 career games played, he has four catches for 21 yards.

Bryant plays Wagner at noon Saturday in Smithfield, R.I. With a win, Bryant will earn a piece of the NEC title. The Bulldogs are hoping to gain an at-large berth into FCS playoffs.

Laucks’ father, also named Gary, was recently honored by East Stoudsburg University. Laucks was part of the 1975-1976 East Stoudsburg football teams that were inducted, as teams, into the East Stroudsburg Athletic Hall of Fame. Those two teams went a combined 19-0-1.

The elder Laucks is a Red Lion High School graduate.

Two former York-Adams League runners have been named to the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Women’s Cross Country All-Conference Team.

York Suburban High School graduate Lauren Shrader and New Oxford grad Cynthia Santoyo were honored.

They are both freshmen and paced Mount Aloysius throughout the season. The duo consistently finished as the top two runners in competitions for the Mounties. Their rookie campaigns were capped by top-10 finishes at the AMCC Championships on Nov. 1. Shrader finished sixth among 82 runners, while Santoyo was eighth.

Shrader’s other highlights included a second-place individual finish at Westmoreland County Community College on Aug. 31 and a fourth-place finish at Franciscan University on Sept. 6. Santoyo recorded top-20 finishes at Franciscan and at Hood College on Oct. 18.

Schrader also qualified to compete in the NCAA Division III Mideast Regional at Big Spring High School, where she finished 238th out of 370 runners. Three other former Suburban runners also competed in that meet: Lebanon Valley junior Hannah Jones, who finished 226th; Widener freshman Kimberly Hall, who finished 232nd; and Ursinus sophomore Alicia Baker, who finished 299th.