Fall 2014 Update from John Thiel
Our season got off to a strong start, with more than 400 students in Middle and Upper School participating in eight fall sports and 28 teams.
We kicked off the preseason with a series of workshops on proper diet and nutrition. Kristen Hamilton, coordinator of Nutrition and Fitness Programs at Villanova University, met with Upper School boys and girls – and included interested parents in those talks – and then she met with individual teams. All of us have noticed an uptick in conversations among students about hydrating and eating right.
In collaboration with the Penn Charter Women’s Legacy Fund, we offered a pre-season College Panel discussion featuring four OPC athletes who played their sports in college. Kiera Murasko-Blank OPC '07, Kellie Ragg OPC '10, Melissa Knight OPC '01 and Dianna Thomas-Palmer OPC '12 spoke to current students and parents about their experiences in the recruitment process, how they chose their colleges, and the lasting benefits of being an OPC female athlete.
Our fall teams are using this time before league play to continue to hone their skills. It is a long way off, but I hope you will mark your calendars for the 128th PC/GA Day on Saturday, Nov. 8. Come for the full day, but if you can’t, tune in to the football game, which will be broadcast live on the Comcast Network, with kickoff set for 1:30 p.m. Check your local listsings for channel information.
Work continues on-schedule for several much-anticipated improvements to existing facilities. I am sharing the “anticipated completion” dates knowing that any one project could encounter a setback but hopeful that each will continue on pace. There will certainly be no delay on our end: the facilities and maintenance staffs have worked through heat waves and rainstorms to keep us on track.
- Our strength and conditioning center has relocated from the Field House to the lower level of the Graham Athletics Center. The center is open and functioning in the larger (60 percent larger), brighter space, and students are enthused. On Columbus Day weekend we expect to install a new rubber floor – designed to absorb impact and sound – plus 15 new, large pieces to complement our existing equipment and a number of smaller pieces. Anticipated completion: mid-October.
- The wrestling program is moving home to its original space, on the second floor of the Upper School, in what was Penn Charter’s first building on this campus. The space has two stunning windows, one looking out onto the kindergarten and the Athletics Center, and the other onto the stadium field. New paint and scoreboard complete the picture; a crew is now refurbishing the hardwood floors. Anticipated completion: Oct. 1.
- In the Field House, our new classroom is popular for both Physical Education classes and team meetings. We have designed that space so that it adjacent to new offices for me, assistant athletic directors Ed Foley and Darci Borski, and athletics assistant April Witherspoon. I think the four of us agree that we are seeing more students, engaging in more conversations with students, and enhancing the relationships between athletics administrators and our athletes. Offices and classroom: completed.
- And the Dooney Field House gym has been painted, the heating and air conditioning system installed, and the scoreboards hung. A construction crew is at work on one of the final phases of the renovation: the hardwood floor. Anticipated completion: mid-November.
- Photos of the work in progress.
Attracting and retaining excellent coaches is a priority for Penn Charter athletics. We made many terrific additions to our staff last year and continued this year with the addition of Brian Hecker, our new girls water polo and boys swimming coach, and Peter Shaifer OPC ’82 as head coach for wrestling. However, we also recently lost a young and popular coach who left to take advantage of a professional opportunity. Coaching places demands on family life and professional obligations. Coaches strive to make it work because of the satisfaction and joy we feel in guiding teenagers to achieve in sports and in life. Penn Charter athletics will continue to do our best to provide for our talented and inspiring student athletes the talented and inspiring coaches they deserve.
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