Well, another year back at good ole West Chester University, and another much looked forward to sports season, as each team gears up to attain their numerous championship goals.Our dearly beloved football team is once again in action, vying for the prestigious PSAC crown with hopes of turning this season into a NCAA Division II championship.
The women’s soccer team here at West Chester has had one of West Chester sport’s most successful runs in history, as they have been named PSAC champion on numerous occasions as well as competed for the NCAA Division II championship.
West Chester’s field hockey team has made the jump to Division I play, competing with the likes of UNC and Penn State. Coach Krannebitter has put a tough, young squad together, hoping to make a run at the Atlantic 10 conference championship this year.
While all of these teams are the pride and joy of the fall sports season each year, there is one team who runs under the radar; forgotten by most, unknown by others. And while they make a run at the NCAA Division I championship every single year, battling the Tar Heels, Nittany Lions, and Hokies along the way, they still don’t grab nearly the attention as the big three football, soccer, and field hockey do.
Head coach Tony DeRemer has been with women’s rugby at West Chester since 1996, taking them from a club team to varsity NCAA to campaigning for an NCAA title. After Delaware took away their chances at a fifth consecutive Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union crown last season in a heart-breaking 6-3 defeat, West Chester’s road back has been made that much tougher, as national champion Penn State has joined the EPRU for the 2010-11 season.
Going into the season, coach DeRemer knows there are trials ahead, with Penn State looming in the distance, as well as trying to build his team back up again. At the conclusion of last season, eight of the 15 starters on the team graduated, leaving DeRemer with a hole to fill, as seven of the eight graduates played forward.
While much experienced talent did leave the team last season, their coach is confident in his younger players to step up and take this team far. Forwards returning to the squad include this year’s captain Megan Otto, Maddie Kriebel, and Sara Glick, one of West Chester’s leading scorers not only the past two years but all time.
Joining Otto at captain and playing back at flyhalf is senior Brianne Feinour. Coach DeRemer is happy with the way they have taken over the team so far.
“Both players have already stepped up as captains and look ready to lead the team into battle,” DeRemer said.
Captains at West Chester have been such a huge part of bringing the team together and really creating a bond needed to compete at this level, when there are 15 of your own players on the field at once.
“They are taking control of their team and leading by example,” DeRemer said, “both of which are qualities that we look for in our captains.”
DeRemer also noted some incoming talented first-years, Calee Spragis and Alexis Noles, who should do the job of added depth to the team.
One of the things that most excites coach DeRemer this season is the addition of new assistant coach, Chris Vely, to the team. Vely is an experienced player, as he not only played for South Jersey and Philadelphia Whitemarsh, but he also coached and played for Brandywine rugby through their national playoff runs the past few seasons.
“I expect Chris to bring a lot of knowledge and passion to the table for our team,” DeRemer said. “I’m very excited to work with him, and I’m sure the team will receive a lot from his coaching.”
In order to make it to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen tournament at the end of the year, they must first make it through the EPRU division, consisting of Penn State, Princeton, and Delaware, all worthy opponents. After that, a top four finish in the Mid Atlantic Rugby Football Union tournament is the only way to qualify for the end of the year event.
Rugby is the only sport at West Chester that goes through both the fall and spring. It is a grueling season, needing much training and conditioning to survive it in full.
West Chester’s EPRU season starts off on Oct. 2.
Ryan Frisco graduated from West Chester with a degree in communications. He can be reached at Ryanafrisco@gmail.com.