Rita Crockett

March 25, 2014 7:54 pm | Written by: | Comments Off on Rita Crockett

The 1980 Olympics were a huge thrill for me!  Back then, the Summer and Winter Olympic Games were held during the same year.  At the ‘80 Winter Olympics, my first cousin, Viki, skied in the Olympics at Lake Placid.  I remember just being awestruck at watching the Opening Ceremonies that year and seeing my cousin on the television walking in the parade of athletes.  What a moment for me and my family!  And then, of course, I got to watch Viki race down the mountains in the slalom ski race.  I remember thinking “Wow, I just watched my cousin ski in the Olympics!”   What a surreal moment in time!

Later that year, the Summer Games were held.  I had just recently discovered my love for of the game of volleyball and was so excited to be able to watch the athletic prowess of our women’s volleyball team, the first team expected to be able to medal for the United States.  However, shortly before the games, President Jimmy Carter decided that the U.S. would boycott the Olympic Games hosted by the Soviet Union.  As a 16 year old, I remember being crushed to not be able to watch the greats like Flo Hyman and Rita Crockett play the sport I loved (and still love to this day)!

Both Crockett and Hyman were special players, instrumental in the resurgence of USA Volleyball in the early 80’s.  As members of the 1980 USA Olympic team, they had trained for nearly a decade yet were denied chance to compete.  With incredible dedication and sacrifice, most of the team continued to train for that elusive Olympic experience.   Four years later, Crockett led the USA team to its first Olympic medal, a silver, in Los Angeles.

Crockett’s playing and coaching career reaches across many decades.  She is regarded as one of the best all-around players in the history of women’s volleyball.  Her professional playing career spanned from 1982 – 1996 with stops in Japan, USA, Italy, and Switzerland.  She also enjoyed a successful career in outdoor volleyball becoming the first African American to win a beach volleyball world championship.  In 1986, Crockett was voted as one of six players to be named to the All World Team.  Her coaching career included stops at the University of Iowa and Florida State University.  She is the current head sand volleyball coach at Florida International University.

Fast forward nearly 30 years.   Still coaching the game Crockett and company inspired me to love, in the fall of 2012 I travelled with my Sage women’s volleyball team travelled to Chicopee, Massachusetts for our season-opening tournament at Elms College.  After winning that tournament, we headed to Holyoke, Massachusetts to go to the Volleyball Hall of Fame.  While at the Hall of Fame, we learned a tremendous amount about the history of the game of volleyball and had a good time viewing “relics” like the old polyester uniforms and sneakers that were popular back in the day.

While there, the highlight for me was the display for Rita Crockett, who been inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2011.  It was an incredible experience to share one of my heroes with this new generation of volleyballers.  One of the team members noticed that Crockett’s nickname “Rocket” was printed on her sneakers on display .  She jokingly asked if she could get her name printed on her team sneakers.  I told her when she had the vertical jump of 42 inches that Crockett had and could hit the ball at 100 MPH, I’d put anything on her sneakers that she wanted.    I think Coach Crockett would approve.


-Sandy Augstein-Collins

Women’s Volleyball Coach

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Pat Summitt

March 14, 2014 12:59 pm | Written by: | Comments Off on Pat Summitt

Growing up, basketball was my life. I played year round, whether it be a game, practice, a camp or clinic, or in my driveway. As a kid I would watch Michael Jordan move magically through the defense for an unthinkable basket. Growing up, my favorite players were MJ, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Allen Iverson, and Kobe Bryant – all men. I didn’t start watching women play the sport until January 5, 2002 during college basketball rivalry week. I watched UConn women’s basketball compete against Tennessee; two powerhouses in the collegiate world. UConn won by 14 and I was instantly hooked to their team due to the intense defense and impressive scoring. I watched the Huskies religiously and the rivalry between UConn and Tennessee was the most amazing experience. I loved the UConn Huskies. Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, the smart played defense and perfect shooting form, and of course Coach Geno Auriemma and his beautiful arrogance. This also meant I hated Tennessee, the color orange, the ridiculous accent of the south, and of course Pat Summitt and her fierceness.

As I became older, my love for UConn remained but I grew fonder of watching all college and professional women play the sport and being able to learn from them. I had the honor of meeting Coach Auriemma at his basketball camp in 2003. I also had the honor of meeting Pat Summit in 2005 while she was recruiting at the AAU National Tournament that I happened to be participating in. Although she was pleasant and took a picture with me, I was still frightened of her and promised I would never let Geno know that I met her. It wasn’t until 2011, the year Pat Summit was diagnosed with early onset dementia, that I realized my so-called hatred for her was actually a form of utmost respect. The news saddened me tremendously as I found myself wishing she could coach the game forever. Her brilliance, intensity, and success are unmatched. To this day she still has the most NCAA wins with 1,098 victories, and that includes men’s basketball coaches as well. What might be even more impressive is that in her 38 years of coaching she only has 208 losses, which is only about 5.5 per each season.

Being a UConn fan, it is odd to talk about how Pat Summitt has positively impacted my life. I wanted her to lose and for us to win; therefore she taught me competitiveness. I watched her yell instructions at players with that famous terrifying look that could scare a ghost; therefore she taught me intensity and mental toughness. Pat Summitt presented herself with class even in the most intense times; therefore she taught me respect and dignity. She was so smart when it came to coaching basketball and because of that the success, championships, wins, and types of players she produced, it made an impact on the sport forever; therefore she gave me pride for women in sports.

In 2013 I read her autobiography – something she wrote after she was diagnosed that included her memories, experiences, and thoughts from over 4 decades. Growing up I thought of her as a good coach but just plain scary. What I learned in her book is that she is so much more than that piercing look she gives her athletes after a poor possession. Family is the number one thing in her life and her heart and her ability to love is as big as anything. She also recalls something, a story, memory, or characteristic about each of her athletes, the super stars and the bench warmers. She got to know each of her players on a personal level and has love and respect for them all. Ultimately, her fierce demeanor and overall intensity is driven by a deeper love and passion that she has for basketball and the people in her life.
I have learned many great qualities from Pat Summitt, all the while watching and cheering for the opposing team, but that is how she is. It takes a unique type of person to have the ability to positively affect and influence people who aren’t even rooting for them to succeed.


-Christine Kemp, Assistant Athletic Trainer

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Kerri Strug

March 12, 2014 12:59 pm | Written by: | Comments Off on Kerri Strug

Start a conversation with any athlete and ask them to name you the toughest sport to participate in and you will get a wide variety of answers that by their own judgment could be right. Now ask any of them specifically if they think that gymnastics is a hard sport and I bet you that each and every one of them will agree that gymnastics is a grueling sport that tries on both one’s mental and physical toughness. That’s where the female gymnast Kerri Strug comes in to play.

Many of you remember the 1996 Summer Olympic Games held in Atlanta, Georgia. The women’s gymnastics team was locked into a heated battle for the Olympic Gold Medal with the Russian Gymnastics Team, who held a slight edge in the overall scoring headed into the final rotation. The American women had only one participant left in Kerri Strug and she was enough to make sports’ history that day.

On her first attempt Strug landed awkwardly and severely sprained her ankle; she could barely walk. At the time, I thought that the Cinderella run for the American Women’s Gymnastics team was about to come to an end and then improbable happened. She pushed away coaches, trainers, and medical personnel and limped back up to the starting line with tears rolling down her face because the pain was so great. When she composed herself enough to begin, she sprinted down the approach to the vault (with a very noticeable limp), and with everything she had, she hit the vault and launched herself into the air.

Time seemed to stand still – it was almost as if every person in the arena in Atlanta and all the people watching at home collectively held their breath. When her feet hit the ground, and the moment had ended, she was standing on one foot and had completed a near perfect landing. Her teammates and coaches ran to her aid as she quickly fell to the ground as she had hurt her ankle even more.  However, she had won her team the 1996 Gold Medal and solidified herself/and her teammates in athletic history.

The point of this story isn’t that Kerri Strug and her team won the Olympic Gold Medal, but that even in a moment of near failure, because of her first vault, she didn’t surrender. She knew in her heart of hearts that she could still muster enough strength to complete the next vault and no matter what the outcome, she was her team’s best shot at winning Olympic gold. Maybe you’re in a place today where you question your ability to perform, whether it’s in the classroom or on the athletic field.  No matter what the situation, know that just like Kerri, “Your best is good enough.”


-Greg Cathell, Head Coach Women’s Soccer

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I will be a Better Coach Because I Trained for a Marathon, part 2

October 6, 2013 12:16 pm | Written by: | Comments Off on I will be a Better Coach Because I Trained for a Marathon, part 2


Mentality Is Everything, Confidence Is Key 

Every week ended with a long run. At the very beginning this   long run was seven miles, in week 13 this long run was 21 miles. During week   one I remember looking ahead and thinking “there is no way I can run 21   miles”. Over the course of the next few weeks I gained confidence. I   chipped away at the miles 7, 10, 13, etc. My 17 mile run was an absolute   disaster. So my 21 mile run wasn’t something I was looking forward to. My   coach acknowledged that my 17 mile run was a disaster, but pumped me with   confidence that I can actually run 21 miles. On that day, I was confident and   mentally ready for it. And for the first time during that run, the thought   actually crossed my mind, I can run a marathon. I can do better than just   run, I can finish with a good time. Our job as coaches is to pump kids full   of confidence. Help them believe they can achieve their goals. They may not   believe right away, don’t just say it once. Tell them every day what they are   doing will help them become a champion. Once someone believes they can do   something, it’s nearly impossible to convince them otherwise. That is the   greatest thing of all.

If You Fail To Prepare, Prepare To Fail 

This is not a new concept, clearly. Nothing is worse than when you don’t plan out your route and you are looking for miles at the end of your run to get your mileage up. My coach did a great job of planning out my training, it was my job to plan my route. Our athletes have little control over planning, it is my job to plan an effective practice. Planning an effective practice, in theory, should lead to a productive season. If there is no plan, there is no direction. Without direction, time is wasted. When athletes feel that their time is being wasted, a two hour practice can feel like four hours. If you set out to run five miles, but only plan out the first four, that last mile will feel longer than the five itself. Do everyone a favor, including yourself, prepare.


Being Positive Will Go A Long Way 

One of my longest runs was a total disaster. When I had to   report my progress to my coach, I was so afraid of what her response was   going to be. Much to my surprise, her response was 100% positive. She knew I   already felt awful enough, so her positivity made me feel much better. Often   times as coaches we think that correcting our kids is what they need all the   time. In reality, what they may need is to hear that it’s ok to make mistakes   and things may not always go as planned, but it’s not the end of the world.   One bad run, one bad practice, one mistake is not going to derail you from   the path you are on to your goals. It’s really about what you do next that   matters.


Set Goals

When I signed up for a marathon the obvious goal was simply to   finish. I had no idea the amount of goals and feats I would conquer along the   way. For a 16 week plan, I had goals every single day. Miles to finish, paces   to hit, strategies to test. Without these goals, I would have been lost. When   thinking about our kids, their ultimate goal is to win a championship. But,   what are their goals for week one? Day 21? My goals kept me focused and   motivated. When I accomplished a goal, it was celebrated, my coach made a big   deal of it. Make a big deal of goals that are met, isn’t that what we’re all   after anyway? Winning games is a goal, plain and simple.


It’s Supposed To Be Hard

Less than 5% of the population has   completed a marathon. It is not easy, in fact, physically it is the hardest   thing I’ve ever done. And I have yet to complete it! Winning a championship   is not easy, only one team per conference is crowned at the end of the   season. Overall, there is only one champion. So, there are over 300 Division   III programs, and only one program ends their season as an NCAA Champion. Not   easy, but who wants to win something that’s easy? I imagine when I finish my   marathon, the sheer euphoria of that moment will keep me coming back for   more. Once you are a champion, you will do anything do get that feeling   again. Regardless of how hard it is, because it certainly won’t be easy.   Comfortably hard, that’s what everyone should be after.


I haven’t even   completed all 16 weeks of my marathon training, I have two weeks until race   day. I don’t know if training for a marathon will help us win a championship.   However, I do know that training for my marathon will make me a better   coach.


-Jackie Craft, Assistant Athletic Director/Women’s Basketball coach



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I will be a Better Coach Because I Trained for a Marathon, part 1

September 24, 2013 2:02 pm | Written by: | Comments Off on I will be a Better Coach Because I Trained for a Marathon, part 1

At whatever point I decided I was going to challenge myself by running a marathon, the single best decision I made was hiring a coach. My coach, Kim Harrison of NYRR, guided me seamlessly through a 16 week, 428 mile journey. I was questioned by manyfor hiring a coach, most of the time people questioned me simply because I was a coach myself. I didn’t know the first thing about running, scratch that, I knew at one point I hated it, thats all I knew. I truly believe if I did not hire coach there is no way Iwould be in the shape I am in today, be as prepared, or be as confident. I learned a lot about running, nutrition, hydration, etc. I learned that being a runner was about waymore than buying good sneakers, comfortable shorts and hitting the road. I learnedwhat it meant to train at “comfortably hard”, a term a grew to understand more and more. I could literally talk for hours about what I learned during training, but everything I learned I can directly apply to coaching.



Accountability is everything, there were days that I flat out did not want to get out of bed and run. But, I hired a coach, for the simple reason that I knew it would hold meaccountable. I had to report times every day, if I didn’t, I would get an email around 7pm from coach “just checking in”. Being held accountable made me work harder, made me more diligent in what I was doing.  Holding kids accountable can often times be over looked. Set goals, help them reach them, encourage kids to hold each other accountable.


More Is Not Always Better


As coaches we constantly think that we need to always practice, every day, no matter what, don’t let a day go by wasted. I learned very quickly that our bodies need rest! It is ok to take an extra day off if it is needed. If kids are exhausted, a day off can go a long way. If they are conditioned properly, both mentally and physically, taking one day off will not hurt them. In fact, in my case, most of the time it did far more good than bad.


Lack Of Effort Or Ran Out Of Gas?


How many times have you said to your team, you weren’t focused at the end of the game. You didn’t try, the effort just wasn’t there. Is that really the case? How many 18-22 year olds do we know that wouldn’t try to win a game in the last 2 minutes? Maybe they simply ran out of gas, needed more fuel and didn’t get it. Too many of my runs started out amazing, and didn’t end as well as I had hoped because I didn’t fuel properly. It’s a science, that will need to be tailored to each athlete. Let your kids figure it out, have them keep a journal of how they feel and what they fueled with on the days they had great practices.

There Are No Short Cuts

There is no cheating in marathon training, same goes for trying to win a championship. My marathon training was 16 weeks long, our season is approximately 18 weeks. Our kids will know this year that day 5 is just as important as day 105, if not more important. We will not win a championship on day one, but cutting corners throughout will take us no where. There are no short cuts to becoming a champion.


-Jackie Craft, Women’s Basketball Coach/Assistant AD

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Paying it Forward

August 28, 2013 1:05 pm | Written by: | Comments Off on Paying it Forward

Last year, when I read about the Baldwin Wallace University Football team tradition of collecting school supplies for their local district to kick off the school year, I couldn’t believe everyone wasn’t doing this already!  Such a simple idea, but the first I’d heard of it.   We definitely could do this at Sage, I thought.  We have to do this.  Each one of us has had a little help along the way to get where we are today.   It wouldn’t take much for our Gators to make a small contribution individually to make an impact collectively.

So, this summer, I asked our Gators coming for fall preseason to each bring a shoebox full of new school supplies.  Our plan was to donate them to the Hackett Middle School in Albany.  My friend, Aseba Harris-Samuels, who teaches at Hackett,  said they could really use the help.  

On the first day of preseason, when no shoe boxes arrived at my office, I started to worry.  Ok, panic might be a little more accurate.  What was I going to tell Aseba?!

Oh, yea of little faith!  Within 2 days, the coaches’ offices started filling with supplies.  Some Gators got really creative and filled backpacks and added cute lanyards and funky erasers and scalloped scissors.   On August 27th, when we gathered it all together for delivery, we must have had 200 pounds worth of stuff!  About 30 of our student-athletes were able to help us load the van and send it off with Aseba.  It was an amazing day. 

I often say I couldn’t be any prouder of our Gators and our department.  Then days like this come along and I find out that I can.   

(The Times Union newspaper sent Lori Van Buren to photograph the day.  Here is a link to her photos.  Thank you!  http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Photos-Winning-play-to-help-kids-4766073.php?t=2ab65215ac )

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Let the Games Begin!

August 26, 2013 6:17 pm | Written by: | Comments Off on Let the Games Begin!

There is nothing like the energy on a college campus at the start of the new  year. The only thing even close is the fervor of a 5 year old’s birthday party, just after cake and ice cream. Barely controlled excitement and overflowing adrenaline (and that is just among the staff). All this nervous energy prepping for the big day when the student-athletes return for preseason….making sure fields are ready, room keys are working, paperwork is filed, good byes are said, and of course, tears are dried. Then, finally, it’s time to play and everything is right again.

Over 100 Gators endured a week of double sessions to get ready for the season. Everyone returns to action this weekend, all shiny in their new uniforms, 1st year players fighting the extra butterflies as they take to the collegiate fields and courts for the first time. Volleyball, Tennis and Cross Country are hitting the road. Men’s and Women’s Soccer will host Friday and Saturday, respectively. I can’t wait! Sure did miss those Gators when they were gone!

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Sage Scholar-Athletes Shine

May 17, 2013 5:17 pm | Written by: | Comments Off on Sage Scholar-Athletes Shine

Just got back from the Baccalaureate Convocation at Sage College of Albany.   Folks might get tired of hearing it, but can’t say enough how proud I am of our Gators.  Today, our student-athletes again represented the best and brightest of Sage.  Our amazing, soft-spoken, humble giant of a right side hitter, Ryan Kramer, was recognized as the class Valedictorian with a perfect 4.0 gpa.  

After a wonderful presentation about Ryan by Dr. Mel Horton,  it was time for the ladies to take center stage.  Mackenzie Riley, the heart and soul of our women’s tennis program, 2x First Team All-Conference honoree, 2010 Skyline Tennis Scholar Athlete of the Year, and 2011 #1 singles player for the Men’s Tennis team, was selected as the Class of 2013 speaker.   Mackenzie delivered as she always has, with a thoughtful, passionate and inspiring performance.  

Then, if that were not enough, Cross Country’s Chelsea Weber was honored with the Cogswell Award, presented to the rising senior who has made a significant impact on the quality of life at SCA and the Sage community. 

What else is there to say?  

Go Gators!

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Beikirk Named Skyline Softball POY; 7 Gators Earn All-Conference Honors

April 30, 2013 7:38 pm | Written by: | Comments Off on Beikirk Named Skyline Softball POY; 7 Gators Earn All-Conference Honors


Link to complete Skyline Release

New York, NY – The Sage Colleges’ softball team received word with the release of the 2013 Skyline Conference Softball All-Star Team that sophomore second baseman, Kristen Beikirch (Brockport, NY/Brockport) was named the league’s Player of the Year, while a total of seven players were named to the Skyline Conference First and Second Teams.

On Monday night, Beikirch was named the Sage Female Athlete of the Year, capping a tremendous week for the sophomore, who last year was the Sage, Skyline and ECAC Rookie of the Year in her first season as a Gator. With her selection by the Skyline Conference she became the first Sage softball player recognized as the conference player of the year.

She was also named to the 2013 Skyline Conference Softball First Team at second base and not only leads Sage, but the entire conference in batting with her blistering .451 average. She also has a team-leading 60 hits, 10 doubles, three triples, and six home runs. She had a .707 slugging percentage that matched her impressive .468 on-base percentage. Ranked among the national leaders in Division III in batting average, runs scored per game, and home runs, triples and on-base percentage, Beikirch had 15 multiple-hit games this season, while starting all 38 games for the Gators.

Head softball coach, Jamie Brown said of Kristen, “She is one of the best pure hitters around. She is always a threat to get on base, and hits for power and can steal a base. She is also one of the most hard-working players I have. She is a huge reason why we have had so much success.”

Beikirch is already making her own run for several of Sage’s career marks in just two seasons on the softball diamond. She already has 122 career hits in 84 games played and started, while carrying a .442 career batting average and 12 home runs, while ranking 5th in career hits, third in career home runs and fourth in runs scored.

Joining Beikirch on the first team is junior short stop Hillary Faas (East Greenbush, NY/Columbia). A 2012 Skyline Conference All-Star Second Team pick as a sophomore, Faas is a 38-game starter and has a .342 batting average with a .550 slugging percentage on 10 doubles and five home runs and a team-best 25 RBIs this season. A two-time Skyline Conference Player of the Week this season, she is making a run at a number of Sage career marks in her three seasons of play as she already ranks No. 9 in career games played (111), No. 4 in at-bats (359), No. 4 in hits (129), and No. 3 in doubles (31). She is also tied for No. 2 in career home runs with 13 and No. 3 three in runs scored (84).

Senior pitcher and utility performer, Kelsey Newberg (New Britain, CT/New Britain) was named to the Second Team at two positions as she was chosen as both a starting pitcher and a utility player. Newberg was also named Sage’s Gator of the Year in softball as the team Most Valuable Player, marking her second selection after winning the award in 2011. Twice this spring she was named the Skyline Conference Pitcher of the Week as well as the ECAC Metro NY-NJ Pitcher of the Week once on another occasion. She has shattered several of Sage’s career pitching marks, while also making quite a statement as a performer at the plate in her three seasons in a Sage uniform. She holds the career record for most strikeouts 261 and most wins 28, while ranking among the top performers as well in innings with 338.0 (No. 2), complete games (36, No. 5), and ERA with a 3.29, which is sixth. She also holds Sage single-season marks for most games (30), most wins (16), and most strikeouts (119). She ranks in the Top 10 in several categories as well having played in 106 games with 321 at-bats, 95 hits and 12 doubles.

Graduate player, Tiffany Bezio (Whitehall, NY/Whitehall) earned her first selection to the all-star team as she was placed on the second team in the outfield, while rookie pitcher Katie Kovage (Hoosick Falls, NY/Hoosick Falls Central) was also named to the second team as a designated player.

Bezio batted a cool .376 on the season to stand second on the squad with a 7-7 effort on stolen bases. A 38-game starter this season, she has played and started 111 career games at Sage and ranks ninth in the category, while sports a .311 career batting average with 15 doubles (No. 10), and five triples (No. 11). She has scored 54 career runs and is a perfect 11-11 on stolen bases in her three seasons in a Gator uniform.

Kovage earned three Skyline Conference Rookie of the Year selections this Spring. She has a team-best 8-3 record with a 2.32 ERA in her 21 appearances, while also batting .364, which is third highest on the team. She is making a run at a number of Sage single-season pitching marks as her 21 appearances in 13th, and her eight victories in also eighth. She has fanned 57 batters this season and ranks No. 7 for a season, while her 2.32 ERA is also ranked No. 7.

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