StagTracks

A first-person account of Stags Athletics!

Stags Keeper To Spend Summer Training In Brazil

Blog Note: Rising sophomore goalkeeper Matt Turner of the men’s soccer team is writing about his summer in Brazil.

Brazil has been a unique and an unbelievably good experience for me thus far. After arriving here from the 10 hour flight last Sunday morning, May 19th, I went into the city of Sao Paulo.  The first thing that struck me was the traffic.  The traffic is so bad in this city because there are so many people! I didn’t go to the academy until the next day.

The Traffic Futbol Academy hosts the club Desportivo Brasil’s youth teams.  The people that live here are comprised of u15s, u17s, and u20s.  The academy makes its money by selling players to clubs around the world. I am a part of the u20s, but we train alongside the 17s (when I’m not with the goalkeeper coach).  The quality of play is very high, and the training sessions are high intensity.  If you switch off for a moment you will lose the ball or concede a goal.

Soccer is life for the kids here, and everything they do is in preparation for the next day’s training. It’s fun to be in the professional environment.

For me it was difficult at first because there aren’t many English speakers here.  It was hard to branch out and make friends also because I didn’t get the opportunity to train until the Tuesday.  Once I began to train, the football really allowed me to settle in.

We train usually twice per day besides Thursdays when we only lift before our game on Fridays.  I got to play the entire game this past Friday.  Playing in a game is such a bonus for me because I only thought I was coming down here to train, but to get in-game experience as well is more than I could ask for.

We get weekends off, so I went back into the city of Sao Paulo and spent it with my dad at his hotel, it was refreshing to speak some English finally.

It’s the beginning of my second week here, and tonight I’m playing in the staff game versus the coaches of the Iranian National Team, it should be a really fun time.

Talk soon,

Stags Abroad – Matt Danaher

Blog Note: Fairfield University students have numerous opportunities to study abroad during their time on campus, and often student-athletes are among them.  Today’s Stags Abroad post is from men’s soccer player Matt Danaher who is currently in Ireland.

I can’t say enough about how much I’ve enjoyed playing with Salthill Devon F.C. for the last two months. We’ve played four friendly matches since I last wrote, one against the best team in Ireland in Sligo Rovers, the Ireland U-19

Matt Danaher is in Ireland, studying and playing soccer.

Matt Danaher is in Ireland, studying and playing soccer.

National Team, and two against county teams. These were four opportunities that I was extremely excited about, as it is not something I’ve ever had the chance to do before back in the United States.

I have to say, in the warm-up to the Sligo match, I was extremely nervous! I would glance to the other side of the pitch and see full-time professionals who play football for a living. I was on the bench for the first half, and I intently watched the game to see how the play was unfolding and where I could potentially find myself in the second half. The Sligo right-back, the captain, was playing on my side, so he was the one I watched the most. Every time he got the ball, he made his decision early; where he was going to pass it, if he was going to switch the play, if he was going to clip a ball in behind the back four. Just from a spectator’s perspective, I couldn’t believe how quick the speed of play was. Every player knew exactly what they were going to do with the ball when it got to them, and their movement off the ball was fantastic. Every player in the Sligo attack was 2 steps ahead of the last pass and were able to find space where a few seconds ago there was none.

Although I was initially nervous in the warm up, I thought about Dan Abrahams Soccer Tough and realized that in a game where the speed of play is that fast, you don’t have time to be nervous! You have to have full confidence in your abilities and your technique so you can focus on your movement, work rate, and decision-making. So as I warmed up to come on in the second half, I set my mindset on how I was going to check to the ball to receive the ball from the center back, and where I was going to be in our defensive shape when we didn’t have the ball. Tony Mannion, the manager, called me over around 25 minutes into the second half and put me on as a right-winger. At this point, Sligo were putting on a passing clinic, keeping the ball for the majority of the game. I think I might have touched the ball 3 times in the 20 minutes that I played, and all I could do was complete 3 passes to my teammates. I know I did more tracking of the Sligo left back than he did of me. Despite us losing 5-0, the experience of playing against a team like that is invaluable. You don’t fully appreciate the speed of play on the television until you are thrust into a situation with it.

The next match we played was against the Ireland U-19’s. While the starting 11 played the first half, the rest of the players and myself trained for an hour on the Astroturf pitch next to the field. We came onto the bench for the second half, and I came on as a left back in the 60th minute. It was a little awkward at first for me because I’m not naturally left footed, but I managed to get past two Irish players on an overlap and put a good cross into the penalty spot with my left foot. The next time I got the ball, I unbalanced the Irish back four with a long ball over the opposing left back to put our right winger in on goal, where he just nearly missed past the outside of the post.

In our most recent preseason friendly, I got the start at right back against Mayo County. It was one of the most beautiful days I’ve had so far in Ireland, so I couldn’t have asked for better weather to play in. Our team played well in the first half, and we found ourselves 3-0 up at halftime. I almost got myself on the score sheet when I came forward midway through the first half. A cross was over hit and as I came forward it bounced a couple yards away from me from the corner of the 18 yard box. I struck the ball on the way down and drilled it back across the frame of the goal, causing the keeper to parry it across and away from the goal. Over the course of the 55 minutes, I made sure to stay positive in everything I did. I made a few mistakes sure, but I made sure to immediately divert my attention away from them and back onto the game. I’ve stopped trying to be a perfectionist and just play because I love to play. If there’s anything that I can take back with me from Ireland to Fairfield for next fall, it’s going to be this mentality of focusing on the positive and being 100% confident in my ability.

Also, on a side note, last Saturday we had the day off so I had the opportunity to go see the Cliffs of Moher for the first time. They are truly breathtaking! I haven’t had the chance to do any traveling since I’ve been here, unlike my American friends (Talking to you Maddie) but I’m really happy I got the chance to see them. The pictures really don’t do the cliffs justice; you have to experience them for yourself to understand what I’m talking about. I made sure to wear my South Central Premier cap to give them a little shout out! I also wanted to give a little shout out to my BTE family. Eric and Mike, you guys have been with me this entire way and I can’t thank you enough for the things that you’ve done to get me to this point. Tiff, Matteo, and Manya, you guys are the best and whenever I hear about you guys doing well it’s like hearing about an accomplishment from a brother or sister. I always make sure to wear BTE on my wrist every game to remind myself of you all and to help me remember that I’m not doing this alone.

Unfortunately, as the first match approaches on March 8, I remain stuck in limbo. My international clearance has not come through yet from the United States, and until that happens I cannot play in any first team matches. Unfortunate as it is, there’s nothing I can do to control it. I could be cleared to play tomorrow, or it could be the end of April. All I know is that I can’t focus on that, I just have to remain positive and keep working hard and playing well in training and when my chance finally comes, I’ll grab it with both hands.

Thanks for reading, God bless, and go Stags!

DOBO Diaries – The Road Trip!

Blog Note: Kyle Koncz is the Directors of Basketball Operations for the Fairfield men’s basketball program. He is partnering with Kelly Romano to bring you DOBO Diaries throughout the year – sharing with you some insights into the behind the scenes work that goes into making a Division I basketball program run.

Eight games, 5,141 miles, six flights, numerous buses, and ONE lost bag. That is how the Stags started the season. In what felt more like one of those legendary long NBA road trips we were able to go 4-4, while being able to learn and grow a lot as a team.  It feels good to be home, and we are definitely looking forward to our home and MAAC opener this Friday night, but before I get to those details I’m sure many of you are wondering what goes into planning a road trip.

There is a lot that goes into it actually, and it really is a group effort by the staff. The first thing is figuring out if we are going to fly. For our games at UVA, DePaul, and Austin Peay we did. The next step is finding the right hotel. We always want our guys comfortable on the road and able to get a good nights rest before a game, but we also have to take into account meetings spaces, meal availability, and distance from gym. The last step is finding a bus company that will lug us around for the days we are one the road. It is a long process, one that has me making a lot of phone calls and trying to work a lot of deals.

Once all of these details are figured out you have to execute the road trip itinerary. It seems like it would be easy, but when you go on the road there is a lot of things you can’t control. Things that can go wrong include traffic, airport check-in and security lines, weather, busy restaurants, and time changes. Now those are the things that keep a DOBO up late at night with nightmares. Luckily for us, other than a traffic scare on our way to JFK for Austin Peay, none of these caused us any problems.

What was the best part of all these trips? Other than the feeling in the locker room and bus after a victory, it had to be our seven-hour bus ride back from UVA. You’re probably asking what about a seven-hour bus ride is fun? Well it did come after a victory over Penn, but it also wasn’t your normal run of the mill coach bus. It was a sleeper bus, and for those of you who have had the chance to take a ride in one I’ll explain. A sleeper bus is normal 56-passenger coach bus, but instead of being filled with seats it’s filled with sleeping space, TVs, couches, and some seats. It even had a big screen projector on the back wall. It was something our guys really enjoyed, and by taking it allowed them to be back in class Wednesday morning.

Coming up this Friday we finally get a chance to play in front of our home fans and the Stags 6th Man – the RED SEA. We are definitely looking forward to the energy and enthusiasm that will have Webster Bank Arena rocking. We have spent enough time on the road hearing it from the opposing fans, and we can’t wait to have the support on our side. Hopefully we see you all there, tip-off is at 7PM, and remember as always GO STAGS!!!!

Thanks for reading,

Kyle

Special K

Sorry, we know it has been a while since we’ve talked but we let midterms, 6am practice and turkey comas get the best of us. Thankfully our blessed coaches have limited the amount of 6:15am workouts to twice a week, don’t get me wrong #FUSBoncall24/7 is ALWAYS in full effect.

I think Coach Laura and Coach B realized what a drag morning practices are so they introduced Team Olympics. Our entire team was split into four teams and told to choose a team name. The teams are as followed: Sleepyheads, PMS, Boom and Clueless. Games have ranged from soccer, basketball, relay races, ultimate handball and poison ivy. If you are imagining delicate girls running around making sure they are ever so careful in not shoving anyone or stepping on any toes, think again. These are the OLYMPICS people, and we are Division I athletes, we all want that #GOLD. Our true teammates may be our competitors for 45 minutes but, by the end of the morning we are back united as one team.

In the locker room, we are all laughing about how Coach Laura caught one of us cheating or how Coach B just gave up on us completely because we turned into a pack of savages during the game. #FUSB #oneofakind #ifyournotcheatingyournottrying?  Regardless we are all very happy with the new addition to our weekly practice routine.

As for lifting, Spellman is still our best friend. You know you’re lifting the right amount of weight when your family back at home comments on how your arms look like they might pop out of the sleeves of your shirt. #mustwinMAACS

Well, just as we did with this blog, we procrastinated far too long on the homework we have due tomorrow . . . so that is all for now #FUSB fans.

We promise to write again soon,

Special K

Blog Note: Softball players Kristen Filicia and Kimi Kurata are teaming up to bring Special K to StagTracks.

DOBO Diaries!

Hello All!

I hope that everyone is surviving this crazy and unprecedented weather pattern we have been dealing with lately. I know that Fairfield and a lot of the surrounding communities have been hit hard, and our staff’s thoughts are with all those who are dealing with very difficult times. We all have been personally affected and it is great to see everyone banding together to help get by!

Keeping on this note for a second, I also want to thank the Fire, EMS, and Utility workers who braved the elements the last few weeks to help rebuild. I ran into a few firemen who were showering at our athletic facilities last week during the clean up. In talking with them I learned they had been out for 3 or 4 days working around the community without seeing their families.  We all owe them a huge thank you for the work they have done! We definitely wouldn’t be close to were we are now without them. Our program will be offering special nights this year at our home games for all of these workers and their families to show our appreciation!

Before the storms hit our program had the opportunity the host our first coaches clinic and we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! On Sunday October 28th we hosted over 80 local youth, high school, and small college coaches at Alumni Hall. We were very lucky to be able to have three tremendous speakers that made the event special.

Our first speaker was Hall of Fame coach Pete Carril, who coached for many years at Princeton University before moving on to the NBA and helping out the Sacramento Kings.  It was an absolute pleasure to sit down and watch Coach speak for an hour. His knowledge of the game is limitless and I know everyone in attendance learned a lot, including our staff and players, from having the opportunity to watch him teach.

After a great lunch from Garden Catering (little plug for one of our sponsors) Pete Gillen took the court for a talk on zone offense. I have had the honor of getting to know Coach Gillen this fall as he has come by few of our practices. He is one of the most charismatic individuals I have ever met, and his hour talk was a great mix of outstanding zone plays (which you might see the Stags running this year) and some solid comedy. In my opinion he should attend some open mic nights down in NYC. I’ve been to a few and he would definitely hold his own!

The day finished up with Mike Maker, the head coach at perennial D3 basketball power Williams College. Coach Maker has one of the best basketball minds in the country. Last year I had the privilege of being on his staff and he helped me grow as a coach and a person. His talk focused on his plethora of fundamental drills he puts his team through every day, and a sprinkle of his offensive principles. We limited Coach Maker to an hour, but I know he could have gone on for days, and no one in the gym would have told him to stop!

Overall it was a great event, and one that we hope to bring to the community every year. Coaching clinics are so valuable to coaches at every level, and to often we fail to share our thoughts and experiences with each other. I definitely grew as coach, and I know everyone left wanting to immediately get in a gym to work with their players! Thank you for everyone who came out, and a huge thank you to Coach Carril, Coach Gillen, and Coach Maker who truly made the day special!

As our first games of the year start this weekend, I hope to see everyone at as many Stag games as they can make. We definitely need and appreciate your support. We play Saturday night up in Hartford against Central Connecticut State. Sunday we travel down to Virginia for the Preseason NIT with our opening game against University of Virginia of the ACC on Monday night on ESPN3. Go Stags!

 

Kyle

It’s a GA Thing!

Blog Note: The Fairfield Department of Athletics has several staff members that work as graduate assistant’s.  While working nearly full-time in their respective field, they are also full-time graduate students. The GA’s will team up to bring you a look at Athletics from their eyes.

Hey Everyone!!

My Name is Claire Tully and I am really excited to get the chance to start up a blog for the graduate assistants (GA) here in Athletics. I am currently in my second year as a GA for Marketing and Promotions. I get amazing opportunities to work with many of our Division I varsity sports here at Fairfield. One of my favorite things that I get to do is interact with our student-athletes. Today was one of those days!

This morning was really exciting for me because I was able to tag along with several of our student-athletes as they participated in some community service. Today was “Read Aloud Day” where Fairfield student-athletes went into Bridgeport schools and read to children. What was great about this experience was to see how energetic and engaged our student-athletes were. They might have even been more excited about today than the kids were! The day started off with us breaking into two groups for two different schools. The school that I was attending was a Special Educational school, and that is really where the magic happened.

We were greeted by extremely nice people who were to take us to each of our classrooms to read. However, before we got that chance, we were given background on the school and its students. Instead of being intimidated or turned off by the idea of having children with behavioral issues in their classrooms, the student-athletes completely embraced it!

It was amazing to see how engaged our athletes were with the kids and how the kids embraced our players. After we finished our reading we all congregated and heard hilarious stories about the different kids in each classroom. It was great to hear that our players really enjoyed the experience and even asked for opportunities to come back. Being able to partake in such a great experience is one of the great benefits of being a GA here at Fairfield.

Thanks for reading,

Claire

GO STAGS!

DOBO Diaries! Red Sea Madness Edition

Blog Note: Kelly Romano and Kyle Koncz are the Directors of Basketball Operations for the Fairfield basketball programs. They will partner to bring you DOBO Diaries throughout the year – sharing with you some insights into the behind the scenes work that goes into making a Division I basketball program run.

Hello all!

Monday was a great day for me. Not only was it our first Monday practice of the season (practice started over the weekend), it was also the first Monday I could wake up tasting a Cleveland Browns victory! For a native Clevelander when the Browns win it feels something like a national holiday. This victory was even sweeter as it came against our rivals from the south of the state, the Bengals, and it guaranteed we wouldn’t go 0-16 on the season! Baby steps and building blocks, work with me here!

The other exciting event that happened this weekend was what has become the official annual start to the college basketball season all across the country, Midnight Madness, which at Fairfield we call Red Sea Madness. Friday night in Alumni Hall both the Men’s and Women’s team joined with the Red Sea, the Stags 6th Man, for an hour of fun and games.

It started of with the introduction of both teams. It was great to see each players own signature entrance as they came out. My personal favorite was the Stag’s junior forward Keith Matthews superman pose. He might be able to give the terminator himself Arnold Schwarzenegger a run for that 1970 Mr. Olympia title!

Next on the list of events was a three-point contest and hot-shot competition. Freshman guard Justin Jenkins was able to overcome the nerves performing in front of the Red Sea for the first time to make it championship, but he was unable to string together enough makes to pull off the victory. In the Stags vs. Students Hot Shot competition our very own student manager Brandon Bubba had his hopes and dreams crushed by a Desmond Wade’s half court buzzer beater! There goes his opportunity to trash talk everyday in practice this season, sorry Brandon. Maybe Des will give you a rematch sometime this year.

The night concluded with a fantastic dunk contest. While all the participants put on a great show, it was freshman Marcus Gilbert who stole the spotlight. The lanky Gilbert threw down two SportsCenter Top 10 worthy dunks on the way to the title. Not only can he threw the hammer down, but his ability to seemingly hang in the air allows for some great photos.

Red Sea Madness was a great way to kick off the season and our guys definitely enjoyed the night. It allowed them to be a little loose and have some fun with the crowd. Even Coach Johnson got into the action, stirring up the Red Sea with an electric boogie down at midcourt! Just trust me, it happened.

Both programs really appreciated the strong showing and support of the student body, and we can’t wait to see the 6th Man rattle our opponents at all our games this year!

Until next time,

Kyle – Go Stags!!!

 

 

M&M Boys

Blog Note: Max Buchanan and Marshall Johnson, members of the men’s lacrosse team, will be pairing up throughout the season to give you a view from their eyes.

Well this week marks the last week of practice until the spring comes.  Fall ball has been a bit of a roller coaster.  We’ve had some fun days and some days that divided the men from the boys, but it’s all been good progress on our way to getting better.

Since this is a “game week” practice started off especially tough today.  About halfway through, however, the mood was lightened a bit when junior defensemen Greg Perraut was formally introduced to freshman defensemen Rob Popdan who basically gave Greg a big bear hug.  I’ve seen girls hit harder, but it was nice to see that Rob is a little bit tougher than we thought.  It was all good competition though.  No hate between the two, just a desire to win.

This weekend promises to be a fun one with all our alumni coming back to play and spend the weekend here in Fairfield.  Our very own MLL champion Brent Adams will be back to showcase his professional talent.  Most of our parents will be making appearances as well to get a taste of what this season will bring.  Hopefully this formal “red/white” scrimmage will live up to all the hype that it has been getting.

Next Monday is the start of the final winter conditioning for me and the rest of the senior class.  I don’t think we can say we’ll miss it, but it’s necessary evil in order for us to be in the best shape as possible come January.  That being said, my partner in crime Maxwell Buchanan will be joining the fat boy club for the second season in row.  Max and the rest of the fat boys will be getting in tip top shape over the next 6 weeks.

All that being said, we are going to do our best to have a great week of practice, so we can impress the fans on Saturday morning.  Hope to see you all out there.

Yours truly,

Marshall

The Special K Debut!

Hello readers,

My name is Kristen Filicia and I would like to finally introduce myself along with my partner, Kimi Kurata, to Stag Tracks and its followers. Kimi and I are both juniors on the softball team who have become Stags all the way from California. We are special in more ways than one and will refer to ourselves throughout the year as Special K. We will do our best to post blogs about the softball team if and when we find time away from our many practicesand workouts. #FUSBonDemand

The Stag softball team has a short window of time where weekends are free of softball and Tis’ the season so what better way to celebrate then a little apple picking.

On Sunday the team carpooled up to the Beardsley’s Cider Mill & Orchard located in Shelton, Conn. There were hundreds of apples, but only a few were ready to be picked. It was picking time for Winesap, Braeburn and Fuji apples, but this didn’t stop us from exploring the whole orchard. We selected a few of our favorites and then went into the Farm Bakery to enjoy some apple donuts and cider.

Apple picking was a delicious success and a first timer for many of us. All the apples we ate seemed to benefit us at our 6:45 a.m strength and conditioning session this morning, as we all survived the lift and passed our sprint test.

Until next time … Go Stags!

Special K

DOBO Diaries – Celebrity Style!

Hello Stag Fans -

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the 2012 ECAC Awards show and convention with my co-workers Head Softball Coach Julie Brzezinski and Athletic Communications lady Kelly McCarthy.  This year marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX, so the convention featured some influential women to speak in its honor.  The ECAC held their awards dinner on Sunday night at the marvelous Mystic Marriott where the dinner guests got to hear from award winners, both athletes and administrators.

My favorite award given on the night was the Award of Valor.  This is a special award given to an athlete who has been through trials and tribulations but still managed to have the strength to perform both academically and athletically.  One award winner that stuck in my mind battled his way through chemotherapy while continuing to play baseball and put up big numbers.  However, one at bat he fouled the ball off of his foot and since his body was comprised because of his treatments his foot broke.  The young man refused to give up, the NCAA granted him a year of eligibility so he rehabilitated himself back and was able to finish out his career successfully.

The next day we had a full schedule.  There were speakers all day and topics ranging from NCAA Compliance to how social media is changing sports today.  Since one of my responsibilities as DOBO is our Facebook page and Twitter account it was a great opportunity for me to hear a professional speak about sports and social media.

Following the social media lecture we were fortunate to hear from Donna Lopiano who has dedicated a great portion of her life to fighting for women’s rights in sports.  Personally, I do not think I stop and acknowledge the importance of Title IX and the impact it has had on the lives of females everywhere, but luckily I had two old birds (Julie and Kelly) with me to put things in perspective.

Kelly Romano with ESPN personality Linda Cohn at the ECAC Convention.

I learned a lot from all of the speakers at the convention but I would have to say my favorite part of the weekend was hearing legendary SportsCenter anchor Linda Cohn speak and getting the chance to meet her.  Linda shoots straight from the cuff and there is little-to-no filter, which I find very refreshing.  Linda told us a little about her story and what it was like being one of the only women to last in her job at the time.  One quote I took away from her was “Don’t be afraid to be yourself, don’t become a robot!”

The other quote I took away was when I introduced myself to her (with help from Kelly McCarthy) she said, and yes, this is a direct quote from Linda: “WOW, you’re famous!! I’m so excited to meet you!” I don’t know who she was mistaking me for but hey, I’ll take that compliment and run with it!

Thanks for reading,

Kelly

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