StagTracks

A first-person account of Stags Athletics!

On Deck With Cacky & Meredith

Blog Note: Cacky Keating and Meredith LaBerge are teaming up to provide a look into Fairfield Swimming & Diving for Stag Tracks this season.

Hey Stags Country!

My name is Cacky Keating and I am a senior and captain of the women’s swimming & diving team. Meredith LaBerge is a sophomore on the team as well and we will be writing to you throughout our season!

Cacky Keating

We began practices only three weeks ago but it seems like years already. We started our double practices last week, swimming both at 6am and 5pm, but this week it is already easier to get up in the morning. We are getting ready for our first meet at home on October 6 at 7pm against Boston College.

What some of you may or may not know is that although we score separately from the men’s swimming & diving team, we do everything together. Our men and women’s teams practice together in both the morning and night, and we aren’t separated by gender in the lanes either. In meets, we compete together, but, obviously during the meets, the men race the opposing men’s team, and the women race the women’s opposing team. We score separately, but each team trains and pushes each other to do their best.

Meredith LaBerge

We practice Monday through Friday, with doubles Monday through Thursday. Friday evening practices are from 4:30 to 7pm, a little longer than normal making up for not swimming in the morning.

Our head Coach is Bill Farley and he competed in the 1964 Tokyo, Japan Olympics placing fourth in the 1500-meter freestyle. Our assistant coach’s name is Jeremy Howard and he swam for the University of Kansas in his college years. We have a talented coaching staff who trains us from September to March, with our annual training trip in Hawaii every Christmas break.

This year we will be traveling to Hawaii from January 11-21, but we have to return back to school on the January 7 to train before our trip. To help pay for our trip, the Swim & Dive team teach swimming lessons to the greater Fairfield area and the funds pay for our trip.

That is all the background info we have for you now… Touch base next week!

Go Stags!
Cacky & Meredith

At The Net With Lindsay Weaver

The Fairfield Stags Volleyball team is headed to Siena and Iona this week to see if they can follow suit to their two wins over St. Peter’s and Manhattan last weekend. MAAC play has officially started and we are all so excited to get this part of the season underway. Last year, we came so incredibly close to winning our conference, and this year, that is our fuel to come out on top. Especially because we will be hosting this year’s MAAC Tournament at Fairfield!!

This week we are going to Siena on Wednesday night and Iona on Friday night. The road trips can get a little tiresome. For example, Siena is about two and a half hours away. To add to that, we have 12 people on our team, not including coaches, and we are a volleyball team, so the majority of us are above-average in height. Then you add two vans to the mix and our bodies get a little cramped. However, it is always well worth the trip to be able to play the sport we all love, and hopefully can come home with a win.

Like any team, there is always someone rehabbing from injury, myself included. I was just released to be able to play without a wrap around my leg, which was very exciting news. It’s always extremely difficult for an athlete to have to rehab an injury, especially when we aren’t cleared to play at all. No athlete wants to sit in a rehab room and ice for three hours while your teammates are practicing. But, almost all of us have been there and we do the best we can to come back as quick as possible.

Even when injury strikes, we strive to stay strong as a team and as players. There is nothing more that we want during season then to end up in the top four so that we can battle it out for conference champion.

Good luck to the rest of the fall athletes in their competitions for the next couple of weeks. GO STAGS!!!

Keeping Up The Chase

Blog Note: Greg Chase is a senior on the men’s cross country team. When not running for the Stags, Greg is involved in numerous campus organizations and community service activities. You can keep up with him all season long on StagTracks.

I’m happy to say that the team has just returned from a successful trip down to Van Cortlandt Park at the Iona Meet of Champions where junior teammate Howie Rosas set the school record with a time of 25:59.99 for the course’s 8k race.

My performance was sub-par for my standards, but the good thing about being on a team is that even with a bad personal performance, I was able to be happy for the team and the other members’ individual successes. I think that you can’t dwell on performances because it’s in the past. Good performance or bad, you have to keep working hard and looking to improve; which is exactly what I want to do!

Last year I had my first healthy cross country season as I have been battling serious and chronic groin injuries since my junior year of high school. But once the spring season came I found myself plagued yet again as I had a staph infection in my calf. Once again I moved forward with high hopes and determination and made sure I did what I could to stay in running-fit.

That’s what you realize as an athlete is that you have to take care of the little things and that’s what I will be doing all this week as we prepare for our first home meet – the Fr. Victor F. Leeber Invitational. It’s going to be a big meet for us because we are planning for a major student turn out as we have invited tons of friends through campus posters and, of course, social networking. But we also plan to have some faculty come to cheer us on as well as our families. Fellow teammate Kyle Short is going to be running in front of his parents who are making the trip all the way from the great state of Arizona.

Obviously, we want to make all of our friends and family proud but even more so because this year the Stags will be running in pink as a tribute to our dedication to support breast cancer research and to support those who have to battle the tragic disease every day. (Susan G. Komen Passionately Pink For the Cure® is the fundraiser, check out the Stags’ team page)

This race means a lot to me especially because it’s my senior year. And so, if two or three ice baths are needed to stay in top-shape then I guess I can freeze with a smile – or try to – because the Stags and I want to bring home the gold and racing at home makes it that more important for us to win for our friends and family.

If you want to come and support us, the Leeber Invitational starts at 11am this Saturday near the track at Lessing Field.

GO STAGS!!

Casey’s Corner

Blog Note: Casey Heely is a freshman goalkeeper for the field hockey team.

 

On Thursday, the Fairfield Field Hockey team and I took our season first cross-country trip to Michigan and opened with a contest against St. Louis. With a goal by Nikki McLucas, we edged St. Louis 1-0 to win our first match of the tournament. After a family tailgate with our most dedicated fans, our team prepared for a day that allowed us to experience the atmosphere of a Big 10 college campus. The day, of course, started with a training session that focused solely on the elements needed to compete against Michigan on Sunday. We then were able to get a glimpse of the competition while watching the match up of St. Louis and Michigan, a game that ended with a 6-2 Michigan victory. With the scouting complete, the team and I moved on to one of our most exciting aspects of the trip – a University of Michigan football game. For us, simply walking through the town of Ann Arbor on game day was an experience similar to culture shock. The entire town was clad in yellow and navy blue-and that is not an exaggeration. It was obvious we were outsiders until we, for the day, took on the persona of a Michigan undergrad and bought shirts, hats and programs to show our faux school spirit. It was shocking to walk into a stadium that held over 100,000 fans to watch a college team play. Coming from a small private school without a football program, we were in a completely different atmosphere – not to say that we in any way lack school pride. It was just the sheer number of people that came out to see this game that awed us all. But I believe we were all humbled by this experience as we stowed our Michigan attire to take on our biggest opponent thus far on Sunday afternoon.  Unfortunately, the match ended with a 5-0 loss to Michigan-although we were never counted out of the game. We are now looking to improve as we move into our last week before conference play that begins with our competition against Holy Cross on Thursday at 4 PM. We still have a lot to prove to show why we are deservedly ranked #23-as the entire audience at U-of-M now know:

More Max

Blog Note: Max Buchanan is a sophomore defender with the Stags lacrosse team. He will be writing throughout the year about his life as a Fairfield student-athlete.

Seasonal greetings to all, my name is Max Buchanan and I will be writing to all of you followers through the Fairfield Men’s Lacrosse blog about everyday experiences.

First order of business is to welcome our transfers. We have added two stellar student athletes, Tobias Armour and Griff McGoldrick. Even though I haven’t talked to Griff I would like to welcome him via this blog. Also I would like to take the time to tell Tobias that he has one of the coolest names because it means “Yahweh is good” in Greek.

Now we must talk about move in day. By Monday afternoon I was ecstatic to be back on campus because the grass looked well groomed along with Nick Guida’s stellar haircut. The dorm upgrade was very nice as well, because my fellow mates and I have air conditioning along with our own personal bathroom that smells like roses. Even though move in day was physically exhausting hauling up elements of clothing and televisions, there was a looming thought on my mind, the run test.

The run test was a surprise for all, which ended up being four 300 yard shuttles. This gave me serious anxiety because 300s are not only physically enduring on the legs and lungs, they are also mentally exhausting because they are absolutely crazy. Even though I did not make every time, I would call it a success because I lived to see another day at Fairfield University and to crush the lift test. Which is exactly what I did readers even with a rocky start to the day. I ended up putting up 260 pounds four times on the bench and feelings absolutely swollen and satisfied after my performance in the weight room.

After a long and physically enduring week it feels good to sleep in Saturday and Sunday along with opportunity to mentally prepare for the Mike Roe vs. Coach Copelan scrimmage occurring Monday morning at 7 a.m. I encourage all students and faculty to come out and watch Mike Roe’s team beat Coach Copelan’s in a friendly yet aggressive contest.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to writing for you again soon.

Max

#TobyForPresident

Michael O’Keeffe – Olympic Blog

A photo of the pitch in Japan where Michael O'Keeffe received his first U23 international 'cap'.

Olympic Blog – Welcome To London!

Our tour of Asia is complete and we are rewarded with one day to soak up the Olympic village before we head to Austria for our final warm-up match.

Despite a 2-1 loss to Korea Republic, it was an improved performance from the Japan game as we continue to get used to each other and the style of play we have adopted.

The feeling amongst the team on the field is growing in confidence as we are beginning to become more comfortable with each other and understand combinations up and down the pitch.

That confidence on the field transpires off the field also, with a bit more banter flying around at the dinner table.

Our first taste of the Olympics was yesterday as we arrived to the Olympic village for a day off training to relax our bodies and soak up the atmosphere.

Although there were not a lot of athletes here yet, going into the Olympic dining hall (where the McDonalds is free!) and arriving to New Zealand’s building, welcomed by a haka [a version of the traditional haka performed by sports teams, especially the New Zealand rugby team], was an extremely proud feeling.

Knowing that you are now part of a small group of athletes (a little over 1000) to represent New Zealand at an Olympic games and be part of such a prestigious club is very humbling.

We were officially welcomed by the chief de commission Dave Currie and presented with our own pounamu – a greenstone native to New Zealand.

Following the official welcome and tour of the building came the time that every athlete looks forward to – kit allocation.

I was 5 years old again and it was Christmas as we got into our huge bag full of gear. Shirts, shorts, tracksuits, jerseys, jandals [a trademark for an open sandal that has a narrow strap between the big toe and the other toes], shoes, speakers, hats, singlets, the works; no matter how old you get, kit-day is always the most exciting.

We are just hanging around the village today, looking at some of the stadiums, a bit of shopping at the Westfield Mall, and trying to stay away from the ever so tempting McDonalds.

We leave for Austria tomorrow for one final game against the United Arab Emirates, before we head to Coventry where we will be based for a week and with the arrival of recent All-White captain Tommy Smith, the team is complete and rearing to go.

Let the Games begin!

Cheers,

Michael O’Keeffe

Michael O’Keeffe – 2012 Olympic Blog (July 13, 2012)

Football isn’t called the beautiful game for nothing and Wednesday night’s fixture against the Japanese U-23s justified its colloquial reference.

Dominated in possession and shots for the most part of the game, the resilience and never-say-die attitude we showed throughout the game in defense came through in attack, equalizing in the 94th minute thanks to a composed finish from Dakota Lucas.

Inheriting the underdog status going into the game, we had talked about being dogged in defense, knowing that the longer we kept Japan scoreless, the more frustrated they would become.

Throughout the first half we were predictably under the pump, but stubborn defending from our backline along with some fine saves from keeper Jake Gleeson ensured the score line remained 0-0 going into half time.

With a small tactical change in the second, we found ourselves on the ball more frequently as the combinations throughout the team began to find its straps.

Nonetheless, Japan had all of the chances, in the second half and after hitting the bar twice they got what the 35,000 strong crowd felt was just rewards by scoring in the 71st minute.

However, just as Japan thought the result was theirs, Kosta Barbarouses picked up the ball 35m from goal and ran at the Japanese defense in one final attempt to salvage a result. He slipped Marco Rojas who stepped over the ball, which left a wide-open Lucas to pick his spot and calmly slot the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the goal.

No matter what the possession, shots on goal or time in opposition half stats say, being able to leave the stadium on level terms with a late smash and grab goal vindicates why they call football beautiful.

We know we have a lot to learn and a lot to do in terms of where we want to be by the time we play Belarus on August 26th but there were many positives also.

With the team only being together 2 days prior to the game, training twice, missing a couple of key players and playing a new formation, to get a result like that is extremely encouraging.

We will take it in our stride, learn from our mistakes and look to move forward in our next game against South Korea U-23s on Saturday (July 14).

Michael O’Keeffe – 2012 Olympic Blog

Olympic Blog 2 – Preparation

Whether it be chicken nuggets for Usain Bolt or a steady 20km row in the morning for the rowing boys in Switzerland, everybody prepares differently, and as a goalkeeper, it is no different.

I always like to start off my goalkeeping sessions with some crisp volleys into my hands. It’s a good way to wake up the hands and body, particularly if you miss one and it hits you in the face.

Gradually I’ll begin to introduce some basic footwork into the drills now and begin to vary the service from volleys at the face, to volleys at the stomach and on the ground.

Footwork is an extremely important aspect of goalkeeping because your feet are what enable you to make the save. We practice these small – mostly lateral – movements in the hope that it becomes instinctive in a game.

The final stages of the warm-up include continuing footwork but working into a collapse dive, ensuring our body weight is forward so any parry’s can be steered away from goal.

These are essentially the fundamentals of goalkeeping and are repeated every session. Although it seems insignificant, personally, this part of the session is the most important.

The session will then move into more advanced drills of situations we may encounter during a game. Lots of shot stopping, reaction saves, one on ones, crossing, distribution, are all done to ensure we are prepared for anything that may come our way during 90 minutes.

Preparation off the field is equally important. The correct diet, hydrating, stretching all factor in and help you stay injury free and recover quicker.

Little things like wearing my long skins and stretching on the 12-hour flight to Japan so my legs don’t swell up are additional ways that I look to prepare before our game against Japan on the 11th.

My bags are packed and passport in hand as I say see ya later New Zealand and Konnichiwa Japan, en route to London 2012… prepared for a trip of a lifetime.

Cheers,

Michael O’Keeffe

Blog Note: Michael O’Keeffe is a senior with the Stags men’s soccer team.  He was recently selected to represent his home country, New Zealand, in the 2012 London Olympics. Read about that here. He will be providing Stag Tracks with a blog about his experience throughout the next month leading up to, and through the Olympic Games.

Michael O’Keeffe – 2012 Olympic Blog

Michael O'Keeffe will be representing New Zealand at the 2012 Olympic Games.

29 Days, 696 hours, 41,760 minutes until the Olympic games begin (not that I’m counting) and training is in full swing.

I’ve based myself in Wellington where the national team goalkeeping coach is based and have been working with him on a regular basis as we prepare for our first warm up match against the Japan U-23 side in Tokyo on July 11th.

Training includes 1-2 sessions on the field a day, 3 gym sessions a week and an all-important game on the weekend.

The local club I am playing for, Miramar Rangers enjoyed a 6-0 win in the Chatham Cup last weekend and have a tough away trip against Macynvale in Hastings (5 hours away) this Sunday.

Miramar is made up of largely Team Wellington players with 3 of the players selected to train with the Wellington Phoenix as part of the Welnix School of Excellence.

Training with the best Wellington and New Zealand has to offer certainly helps my preparation as we look to take on the some of the world’s best footballers.

Lastly I would just like to thank all the support I have received from friends and the Fairfield community, certainly makes waking up at 5:30am for training a lot easier!

Michael O’Keeffe

Blog Note: Michael O’Keeffe is a senior with the Stags men’s soccer team.  He was recently selected to represent his home country, New Zealand, in the 2012 London Olympics. Read about that here. He will be providing Stag Tracks with a blog about his experience throughout the next month leading up to, and through the Olympic Games.

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