Aug. 21, 2014 — The unimaginable

In diplomacy and international relations, there has always been the concept of the carrot and the stick; using incentives and punishments to try to influence behavior.

But in Iraq recently, there has been one of the few combined uses of carrots and sticks in the history of world events. The United States has been sending food and water to thousands of refugees trapped in tribal lands in the Kurdistan region, while striking military positions of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

A couple of days ago, we were reminded why the U.S. had to help out.

The brutal execution of photojournalist James Foley by agents of ISIL shows that these fundamentalist radicals are bad actors. The action only reinforces and justifies the reason why there is a continuing American military presence in the Middle East. Yes, you can read the word “oil” into any President who slips the words “our vital interests” into any address about Iraq, Afghanistan, and the so-called War on Terror.

ISIL, however, is a real enemy with real designs on creating an Arabian empire. It’s been tried before; many of you may not remember when Egypt and Syria were, in essence, one country in the early 1960s. There were designs on turning this United Arab Republic into a large land mass extending into Saudi Arabia.

ISIL has designs on possibly creating a caliphate that extends all the way from northern Nigeria, across northern Africa, through the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula, all the way to Pakistan.

Much like al-Qaeda under the rule of Osama bin Laden, this is an economic war found under a religious guise. ISIL, if it is allowed to win, could control an enormous swath of economic wealth, including oil and technology, on two continents.

I think the execution of Foley does more to build resistance than followers, however. And despite a war-weary U.S. populace, the footage reminds us of what could happen if ISIL wins.

Normally I wouldn’t be hawkish in matters such as these. This is one of those circumstances where it is very much warranted.

Aug. 20, 2014 — An immediate test of journalistic integrity

The schedule for Big Ten Network field hockey coverage was released yesterday, and there’s one game that jumps out immediately at you: the opening game Sept. 26th with Indiana visiting Iowa.

It not only will be interesting to see how well Iowa plays under the coaching of interim head coach Lisa Celluci, but I think this is going to be a test for the Big Ten Network and the journalistic independence of its staff.

It’s not escaped my notice that all four major professional sports have their own sports networks. Each of them have varying degrees of candor when it comes to the issues of the day. The NFL Network, for example, has papered over its scandals regarding the pay-to-play nature of Super Bowl halftime performances, and won’t discuss issues regarding long-term health, especially concussions. The NHL Network won’t touch into the contentious issue of fighting, and you had very biased coverage on NBA TV on the 2011 lockout of its players.

Only MLB TV has been willing to show a degree of independence from the corporate entity which bears its name. The network regularly takes on issues like performance-enhancing drugs, even coining the term “steroid era” for a period when player statistics were skewed so much that the integrity of the game was at risk.

I’ll be interested to see how much the on-air talent of the Big Ten Network is allowed to discuss the dismissal of Tracey Greisbaum and the pattern of firings of Iowa athletic director Gene Barta.

Aug. 19, 2014 — NCAA Division I preview

THE FEARLESS 5IVE

Connecticut
Maryland
Michigan
North Carolina
Virginia

Last fall, the University of Connecticut overcame three ACC teams in its run to the national championship. This year’s team will have to overcome the graduation of Maria Elena Bolles and Chrissy Davidson. However, Chloe Hunnable (23 goals) and Roisin Upton (12 goals, 16 assists) return. The team will also have the services of incoming freshmen Casey Umstead and Karlie Heistand. Watch also for the dynamic sophomore Montana Fleming, who led all non-starters in scoring last year.

Hot on UConn’s heels will be the University of Maryland. The Terps graduate U.S. national teamers Jill Witmer and Ali McEvoy, but will return leading scorer Anna Dessoye (13 goals, 16 assists). A lot will be expected from Maxine Fluharty (12-7) now that she’s a senior. She should have a breakout season. That, I think, will only help teammate Alyssa Parker (7-6), but the key player on the team will be fullback Sarah Sprink (9-5), especially as the first option on corners. Look also for freshman Moira Putsch to make an impact on the attack end. She is a relentless player who is ready-made for this high-tempo offense.

A re-formed Big Ten conference will benefit the University of Michigan, allowing the team to form its expectations with an 11-time national champion as a rival, as well as a new hockey facility next to a renovated Phyllis Ocker Field. Leslie Smith (nine goals, 10 assists) is the leading returning scorer, but I think a key player in the Wolverines’ fortunes will be junior Shannon Scavelli. Her ball distribution in the midfield will be a key to the team’s success. Watch also for incoming freshmen Katie Trombetta and Morgan Malone, and whether they contribute immediately.

The cupboard is hardly bare at North Carolina despite the Heels not making the NCAA final. The team took a spring tour of Holland and is looking to build on that experience. The team’s top five scorers return; this includes Team USA’s Emily Wold (six goals, 23 assists), Nina Notman (15-7), Casey DiNardo (14-2), and Charlotte Craddock (13-5). This makes one wonder how this team will share the ball, especially with an incoming freshman class led by pure scorer Gabrielle Major.

Speaking of scorers, Virginia gets one of the greatest goal-scorers in National Federation history. Incoming freshman Tara Vittese had 166 goals over four years at Cherri Hill Camden Catholic (N.J.), but the most impressive stat is that she led the U.S. junior national team in scoring at last year’s Junior World Cup in Germany. She will bolster an attack led by Caleigh Foust (12 goals) and Riley Tata (11).


ELSEWHERE IN DIVISION I: The Duke Blue Devils made a wonderful run to the NCAA final last fall, but the graduation of Emmie Le Marchand will hurt. The team’s leading returning scorers are Heather Morris and Jessica Buttinger, each of whom scored eight goals.

If there is one team that is looking for redemption from last year, it’s Syracuse. The team held down a top-five spot for most of the 2013 season but fell short of the Final Four. The Orange are led by Emma Russell (12 goals, 11 assists) and Lauren Brooks (13-1). Of the incoming freshmen, look at Jessica Berg. She played on a state championship lacrosse team at Colorado Springs Air Academy (Colo.), and led the state of Colorado in goals two years ago.

I think Boston College will have a major impact on the Division I landscape, especially with the move of Maryland to the Big Ten. The he Eagles return their four leading scorers: Emma Plasteras (11 goals, 12 assists), Eryn McCoy (8-2), Emily McCoy (9-4), and AshLeigh Sebia (7-4).

I also think there is going to be a big push from Iowa. This proud team is highly motivated and a bit angry after their head coach was removed a few weeks ago, and if the team congeals around the idea of showing what they are made of, watch out. The Hawkeyes. Natalie Cafone (22 goals, eight assists) and Dani Hemeon (13-4) are the team’s two leading scorers from last year. Incoming freshmen Taylor Omweg and Melissa Progar, both of whom prepped at Yorktown Tabb (Va.) are also veterans of their school’s track team.

Aug. 18, 2014 — NCAA Division II Preview

THE FEARLESS 5IVE

LIU-Post
Merrimack
Millersville
Shippensburg
West Chester

It was one of the feel-good stories of NCAA field hockey last fall when Bertie Landes, after more than three decades of trying, brought home a national championship when Shippensburg won on a Bre White penalty stroke in overtime. White has graduated along with a good senior class, but defender Ari Saytar leads a strong group of incoming seniors. But what is also not escaping notice is a good incoming freshman class brimming with players who could contribute immediately.

Millersville is the likeliest team to take on Ship for the PSAC championship this season. The Marauders’ three leading scorers — Champayne Hess (10 goals, 2 assists), Sarah Bomberger (8-7), and Rachel Dickinson (7-8) return. The defense will be led by junior back Megan Donlan.

LIU-Post, which fell achingly short of a national title, is also back for another title run in 2014. Kelli Ann Margiotta (26 goals, 15 assists) and South African graduate student Dani Crouse (6-14) return to lead the attack. Meredith Stocklin (five clean sheets) returns for her sophomore season in the Pioneers’ goal cage.Giving the Pioneers a challenge for conference honors will be Merrimack. The Warriors, coming off a loss to Post in the national semifinals, return junior Katrina Squieri and sophomore Maura Doyle, each of whom had nine goals a year ago. Katie Bishop, the Hofstra transfer, leads the defense.Another team to watch for is West Chester. The unquestioned success and history of this program makes them a perennial contender for national title honors, and the program aims to show that last year’s 14-6 record was but a fluke. Leading the way will be junior Alayna Brown (11 goals, 3 assists) and sophomore Marnie Kusakavitch (7-3).

Aug. 17, 2014 — NCAA Division III Preview

THE FEARLESS 5IVE

Bowdoin
Christopher Newport
Middlebury
The College of New Jersey
Salisbury

It was almost appropriate that the Bowdoin field hockey team won last fall’s DIvision III national championship. That’s because the Polar Bears had to endure the cold bay winds blowing into Norfolk which made the Powhatan Complex at Old Dominion University feel colder than the temperature in Brunswick, Maine.

The Bears won their fourth championship in the last seven years and are a hot favorite to win a fifth. That’s because the team graduates just four seniors. But amongst the returnees are junior Rachel Kennedy (21 goals) and senior Emily Simonton (14). In addition, goalie Hannah Gartner (7 clean sheets) returns for her senior season.

I think the team that is likely to be the Bears’ greatest rival for the championship is Christopher Newport. CNU had a tremendous season, winning 21 of its first 22 matches. But playing a virtual home game in the national semifinals, the Sailors lost to Bowdoin 4-1. This year’s team includes leading scorers Belle Tunstall (18 goals) and Lauren Cheatham (14).

Also likely to contend for national championship honors is last year’s runner-up team, Salisbury. The team is led by three underclasswomen: junior Courtney Jantzen (15 goals), sophomore Yumi Kim (13), and junior Samantha Johnson (13 assists). They will join seniors Mallory Elliott (11 goals) and Emily Washburn (seven goals, six assists) in what is a very experienced lineup for head coach Dawn Chamberlin.

Salisbury managed to get to the final despite losing a couple of games in the regular season. One of those losses was to The College of New Jersey, a team which is steaming mad about being left out of the NCAA Division III tournament despite winning 16 games and scoring 76 goals. The team is led by seniors Lindsey Hatch (24 goals), Erin Healy (19 goals), and Erin Waller (five goals, nine assists). Look also for the former National Federation goal-scoring leader Lexi Smith. She had 11 goals and two assists in a part-time role, and much will be expected from her this season.

Another team which is likely to contend for the national title is Middlebury. The Panthers, champions of the nation’s toughest Division III field hockey conference, managed to beat Bowdoin for the NESCAC postseason tournament, but lost a week later to Skidmore in the NCAA quarterfinal round. Middlebury returns its two leading scorers: senior Catherine Fowler (18 goals, 16 assists) and junior Bridget Instrum (16-5).


ELSEWHERE IN DIVISION III: Given NESCAC’s overall strength over the years, it would not be surprising if Tufts made another deep run in the postseason. The Jumbos gave Salisbury all it could handle before dropping a 1-0 decision in the octofinal round. Leading scorer Dakota Sikes-Kelip (16-6) returns.

Take a serious look at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Engineers had won their first nine games of the 2013 season, only to go into a 5-5 tailspin to end the year. Tech has recruited from magnet schools and from good programs such as Baltimore Bryn Mawr (Md.) and San Diego Torrey Pines (Calif.) but there is one interesting recruit in the incoming freshman class. Chaira Waingarten never played a minute of high-school field hockey, instead training with adults at the Aventura field hockey club in Miami.

Another team to watch out for is a team that plays its hockey on a blue pitch: the University of New England. The Big Blue won the ECAC New England Championship with a 17-6 record. Head coach Danielle Collins is from the Penny Calf coaching tree out of Walpole (Mass.) and is having her team primed for better things in 2014. Erin Bibber (12 goals) leads all returning scorers.  

Aug. 16, 2014 — A new beginning

This morning at 10 a.m. Eastern time, Louisville DuPont Manual (Ky.) will play Louisville Christian Academy (Ky.) in a field hockey game at Horton Field on the campus of Sacred Heart Academy.

With that, the 105th American scholastic field hockey season will begin.

The occasion is the 42nd Apple Tournament, an event which reverts back to its old format this year after changes the last couple of seasons. The tournament brings in varsity and JV teams from public, private, parochial, and magnet schools from around Louisville.

Champions will be crowned in two divisions next week.

With that, let the competition begin.

Aug. 15, 2014 — A national DMZ?

I’ve been watching, like many of you, the events the last few days in Ferguson, Mo. where unrest over the shooting of an unarmed teenager has resulted in anger, protest, and the deployment of police officers in military weaponry to quell the unrest.

I first noticed the outfitting of domestic police with military gear when my sister and I visited Europe in the mid-80s. The European soccer championships were going on at the time, and there were soldiers armed with Uzis patrolling train stations in pairs, and squads of gendarmes parked in armored vehicles just off the Champs-Elysses waiting for trouble.

Of course, your Founder thought this was complete overkill. Looking back, however, the threats were real; groups like the IRA, Basque seperarists, Armenian nationalists, and football hooligans could have disrupted the proceedings. But as it happens, the only explosions and burning occurred the last night of the tournament as revelers lit sparklers and firecrackers to celebrate France’s win over Spain in the final.

The last week has seen a lot of explosions in Ferguson, including many on the part of police officers using equipment offered by the U.S. military in the name of protecting against terrorism.

But the last I heard, there are not a lot of high-value terror targets in Ferguson. There isn’t a need for vehicles with mine-resistant armor.

What there is a need for is a police force that is representative of the community it serves — one that protects, preserves, and defends the Constitution of the United States. Which isn’t happening right now.

The whole world is watching; let’s hope the right decisions are made.

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