Vassar Today

What's Brewing

By Robin Deutsch, Sports Information Director

Vassar Athletics Summer is at its close, which for Vassar student athletes and their coaches means the slate from last year had been wiped clean, and it is time to put an off-season’s worth of mental and physical preparation to the test. These Brewers are not only moving into their new rooms and reconnecting with old friends, they also are getting ready to compete—on volleyball and tennis courts, soccer, field hockey and rugby fields, cross-country trails, and golf courses.

Fall Lineup

Senior Female Athlete of the Year Kaitilin Harvie (field hockey/ lacrosse)
Senior Female Athlete of the Year Kaitilin Harvie (field hockey/ lacrosse)
Women’s volleyball and tennis begin their fall seasons as the heavyweights inside the Liberty League. (The league, formerly named UCAA, sponsors championships in 24 sports and includes institutions such as Clarkson, Hamilton, Hobart & William Smith, Skidmore, and RPI.) Both teams have won an unprecedented four-straight league championships and have the type of returning nucleus that will keep them in the title hunt for a fifth-straight time.

Head women’s volleyball coach Jonathan Penn has eight returning players, five of whom were starters last season. Senior hitter Anita Stavin capped off a sensational junior year by being named MVP of the Liberty League Tournament and selected First-Team All-League. She is joined by fellow senior hitter/setter Lauren Gass, a Second-Team league selection, and super sophomores, hitter/setter Alia Al-Khatib, hitter Cat Foley, and setter/libero Amanda Hsiung.

Women’s tennis coach Kathy Campbell welcomes back juniors Debbie Sharnak and Kelly Graham, two dominating players at first and second singles who are even more potent as the doubles pair that went 22 – 2 in 2004 – 05 and were named to the ITA’s All-America team. Last season, junior Anna Will had a terrific season playing third singles, and the sophomore duo of Kelly Barnett and Elysa Kliman help form a formidable lineup that also looks to defend its New York State title.

Prentiss Field will showcase not only some of the finest soccer and field hockey playing fields anywhere in the country, but three teams that are led by excellent coaches and have the talent to make some noise this fall.

Volleyball�s Steve Gilhool '05 (right) accepts the inaugural Athletic and Fitness Alumnae/i of Vassar College (AFAVC) Award from Matt Soper �91
Volleyball�s Steve Gilhool '05 (right) accepts the inaugural Athletic and Fitness Alumnae/i of Vassar College (AFAVC) Award from Matt Soper �91
Men’s soccer coach Andy Jennings has a strong group of a dozen returning players, led by All-Liberty League performers senior defenseman Nate Malinowski, junior midfielder Court Steiner, and sophomore defenseman Ben Fox. The Brewers were in the Liberty League playoff picture last season—and with an influx of new talent will be in the mix again this year.

New women’s soccer coach Sarah Dwyer-Shick inherits the nation’s sixth most improved team (10-8-1) in Division III last season. Virtually the entire team that won the New York State championship last season returns. The Brewers will be led by talented sophomore midfielder Claire Beitcher, VC’s second leading scorer and an All-Liberty League performer. Look for seniors Trish Walsh to anchor the defense and Jenny Baumwoll the offense, juniors Lisa Strumwasser in goal and Kate Bossange at midfield.

On the cross-country trails, new coach James McCowan ’99 will look to senior Patrick Murray and sophomore Eric Langhans to set the pace and tone for the men’s team that is coming off a second place finish in the Liberty League Championship. On the women’s side, a solid group of returning runners, led by senior Nilly Buchsbaum and sophomore Christine Schleppegrell, position VC for a promising season.

Senior Male Athlete of the Year Avi Kramer (cross-country)
Senior Male Athlete of the Year Avi Kramer (cross-country)
Judy Finerghty’s field hockey team has a dozen returning players led by junior forward Bernie Wu, an All-Betty Richey Tournament selection last season, and senior back Genevieve Fare, an All-Seven Sisters honoree.

At the farm, what’s the encore for Tony Brown’s rugby teams? The women’s team won its seventh Metropolitan championship in the last eight years and advanced to the USA Rugby Collegiate Final Four. The men’s team was nearly as successful—Metropolitan finalists in 2004.

Women’s golf won the Elmira Tournament last fall and have all players returning from last season plus a host of promising newcomers.

New Coaches Join Staff

Four new coaches join the athletics staff this year. Former cross-country All-American James McCowan ’99, takes over the men’s and women’s cross- country programs after assisting longtime head coach Ron Stonitsch last season. Stonitsch, who was recently inducted into the C.W. Post Hall of Fame for his exploits as a star runner, will remain with the program as an associate coach.

Sarah Dwyer-Shick, who has been a collegiate women’s soccer coach at Stony Brook University, South Dakota State University, and the University of Northern Colorado, takes over the reigns of the women’s soccer program. She was both a soccer and lacrosse player at Smith College.

Former Duke lacrosse All-American Joe Proud was named the new men’s lacrosse coach. Proud, who has New York roots as a native of Camillus, has a long and prosperous history in the sport. He has been a collegiate lacrosse coach at Cal-Berkeley, Cornell, Vermont, and SUNY Plattsburgh.

Coaches� Award winner Emily Learner �05 (field hockey/ lacrosse)
Coaches� Award winner Emily Learner �05 (field hockey/ lacrosse)
Bruce Gillman, a noted collegiate fencer, coach, instructor, and referee, has been named head coach of the men’s and women’s fencing teams. He has been an assistant coach at Sacred Heart (CT) University, owner and chief instructor at the Fencing Center of Long Island, and a longtime referee examiner for the USFA Fencing Officials Commission. He’s a top official on the collegiate and scholastic level who has worked NCAA and ECAC Championships.

Spring Recap

After a season that saw him single-handedly rewrite the Vassar baseball record books, Kristaps Aldins ’05 was named the Liberty League Player of the Year. Aldins’ records were for single season batting average (.444), at bats (144), runs (40), hits (64), doubles (18), RBI (45), and career marks in doubles (33).

Volleyball’s Steve Gilhool ’05 finished his impressive career on a high note. Gilhool, who carried a triple major of physics, Japanese, and astronomy, was named a District II Academic All-American by ESPN The Magazine and CoSIDA, the organization of the nation’s college sports information directors.

Betty Richey Award recipient Bernie Wu �07 (field hockey)
Betty Richey Award recipient Bernie Wu �07 (field hockey)
Women’s lacrosse player Christine Castellan ’08 set the single-season scoring record with 46 goals and was named the Liberty League Rookie of the Year. Her coach, Judy Finerghty, led the Brewers into post-season play for the first time since 1997 (New York State, ECAC), and was named Liberty League Coach of the Year.

On the tennis courts, longtime men’s coach Roman Czula led VC to the league tournament finals for the first time ever and was named Liberty League Coach of the Year. Erik Skartvedt ’07 earned First Team All-League honors following a 9–5 spring season.