Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Lawson, Sylvia head Parkettes' 2017 scholarship group

Parkettes gymnasts Erica Fuchs (left), Taylor Lawson, Meredith Sylvia and Alex Frack have gymnastics scholarships to Temple, Stanford, Auburn and Penn State, respectively.

When I walked into the Parkettes National Training Center the other day to talk to Taylor Lawson and Meredith Sylvia about their college commitments and the 43rd Parkette Invitational meet, Taylor was training on the balance beam.

I watched as she stood perfectly still, then suddenly launched herself into a back flip with a half twist, landing solidly on the four-inch-wide beam. I can’t tell you exactly how many Parkettes gymnasts I’ve seen do that same skill over the years, but on this day, I wondered how long it took her to get up the nerve to try it.

Taylor laughed when I questioned her about it, then said, “I first did that skill when I was 12 years old. It took a lot of trial and error and I have like battle scars from it, but now I have a technique that I use. It works, like, 90 percent of the time, so actually it’s one of my easier skills. It looks really hard, but if you have the right technique, it’s really simple.”

“Easy for you to say,” I replied. “Any broken bones?”

Monday, January 16, 2017

Leopards' staff is ready to go to work, Garrett says

“(Rich) Bartel is very smart and has been exposed to a lot of different systems. He will be a coach in the NFL one day, if he so desires.”
Ken Whisenhunt, then-Arizona Cardinals head coach – Aug., 2012.

When I sat down with new Lafayette College football coach John Garrett for the first time, his first words to me, after we introduced one another, were, “Tell me about yourself.”

Just that quickly, the interviewee became the interviewer, and vice versa. The discussion of X’s and O’s could wait.

That’s the modus operandi for the 25-year veteran who’s in the first month of his first job as a head coach.

“I start all the interviews with just asking them to tell me their history, their story,” Garrett said when we talked on Saturday about the hectic first couple of weeks of his life at Lafayette. “(I want them to) tell me how they talk about themselves, their influences to family. I’m constantly trying to figure out if they are going to be a good fit in the program and with other staff members.”

When he was first introduced to the college and the media, Garrett, speaking about his eventual staff, said, “We’ll have a collection of guys with NFL experience, major college experience, FCS experience and a real familiarity with our recruiting footprint, which will be an 8-10-hour drive from Easton. We’re going to have guys who are familiar with Pennsylvania and all the border states -- Ohio, New Jersey, Virginia. We’ll have great teachers on the staff. Our job as coaches is to teach (players) how to do it and why to do it that way so they buy in.”