Knight of the week: Jack Ceglarski

Playing ice hockey in college is a dream for many young hockey players and for most, it remains an unattainable wish due to the amount of work and commitment that is required to even be considered by colleges. Enter junior forward Jack Ceglarski, a player who was fortunate enough to be able to continue his hockey career right here in Geneseo as a member of the Ice Knights.

Unlike a majority of Geneseo students, Ceglarski is not from the state of New York. Rather, he was born in Beverly, Massachusetts and grew up in Byfield, Massachusetts where his family still lives today. Ice hockey is to Massachusetts as lacrosse is to Long Island—practically everyone plays or has played at some point in their life.

Not only did Ceglarski grow up in an atmosphere that supports hockey, but his own family had strong ties to the sport. His grandfather and father both played, as did his two older brothers. Ceglarski started his ice hockey career young, stepping onto the ice for the first time as a 2-year-old.

Ceglarski explained that his original goal was to play for a Division I college, but when he realized that he would not be able to do so, he chose Geneseo for its welcoming environment.

“The campus and the atmosphere when I came on my visit here—I loved everything about it and honestly when I was leaving, I knew that I would come here and so it was an easy choice for me,” he said. “It was my goal to go Division I but at the end of the day when I realized that I wasn’t going Division I, I was totally OK with coming here and I do not regret one thing.”

Ceglarski has had a successful career as an Ice Knight thus far, tallying up four points this season and showing that he deserves to be playing at the collegiate level.

“My role on the team is to play an all-around complete game in all three zones, use my speed to beat other teams and find open teammates,” Ceglarski said. “I feel I've helped the Ice Knights the last few seasons by bringing hard work on and off the ice to keep the Geneseo hockey tradition going in the right direction.” Ceglarski’s dedication to his teammates exemplifies the strong bond that helps to make the Ice Knights so successful.

When he’s not on the ice, Ceglarski noted that he enjoys hanging out with his friends, listening to music and playing golf when the weather is nice. Ceglarski also noted that he cannot whistle.

Even though he may not be completely sure as to what he wants to do after Geneseo, Ceglarski noted that he is optimistic about seeing where his geography major and history minor may take him. Having one year left as an an Ice Knight and Geneseo student, he still has time to figure out his future while also helping his team move forward into the NCAA Tournament.

Ice Knights surpass expectations, ranked in top 10

The Ice Knights’ last season left a lot to be desired. Finding limited success from the Frozen Four run the previous year, the Ice Knights hung up their skates after the first round SUNYAC Tournament loss to the SUNY Brockport Golden Eagles.

In addition, the graduation of several key players including defensive captain Jack Caradonna ‘15, forward points leader Tyler Brickler ’15 and record breaking goaltender Nick Horrigan ‘15, would point to the Ice Knights undergoing a rebuilding year. According to assistant coach Kris Heeres, even several pre-season polls put the Ice Knights toward the bottom of the SUNYAC standings.

Despite all the uncertainty that surfaced before the season began, it’s more than fair to say that the Ice Knights performance in the first half of the 2015-2016 season has surpassed everyone’s expectations. Right out of the gate, the Ice Knights started with a tie against the then sixth ranked team in the nation: the SUNY Oswego Lakers.

The first weekend not only saw the Ice Knights start with a 0-0-2 record, but it also gave them many ideas and indications of what needed to be worked on for the rest of the season. Since that pair of ties, the Ice Knights have gone 7-1. They dropped their only game to Buffalo State while beating several nationally-ranked teams such as 14th ranked Williams College and the huge upset Saturday Dec. 5 over the top team in the nation: the SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinals.

It would be senior forward David Ripple to put the Ice Knights ahead of the Cardinals 5-4 with only 2:06 left to play, a testament of how several Ice Knights have risen to fill the skates left by last year’s seniors. Ripple has 13 points to his name this season and is one of four players that are already in double-digit points—the other three being the offensive line of first year Anthony Marra with 14, junior Stephen Collins with 16 and junior Trevor Hills with 14. This line in particular has had the most success, combining for 23 goals and nearly averaging two per game. Marra is especially deserving of credit, winning 81 of his 148 face-offs this season, putting him at a 55 percent win-rate.

Perhaps the biggest skates to fill were those of Horrigan, who after 40 games in an Ice Knights’ jersey averaged a .931 save percentage and had a 2.13 goals allowed per game average. While it may be too early to tell if Horrigan’s record will be broken, first year goalie Devin McDonald is certainly giving him a run for his money. Having only played eight games so far this season, McDonald has averaged a .928 save percentage, 1.98 goals allowed average and remains undefeated—a great start.

Looking ahead, the Ice Knights are currently ranked fourth in the SUNYAC, having played fewer games than several other teams above them. They certainly have the potential to clinch one of the top two seeds in the SUNYAC, which would allow them to have a bye in the first round as well as home ice advantage in the playoffs. The Ice Knights were ranked in the top 10 in the nation and look to climb higher as the season progresses.

The last game of the Ice Knights’ first half of the season occurs Friday Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. when they host the Nazareth College Golden Flyers in the Ira S. Wilson arena. The Ice Knights then go on a month break and the second half of their season will start on Jan. 8 against Hobart College.

Bryant's impact on game makes him player of generation

From diehards to the most casual fans of basketball, everyone has heard of Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. Even those who have never even watched a full game of basketball in their lives have most likely heard of him. Since joining the league right out of high school in 1996, Bryant has surpassed countless milestones in his path and has carved out a legacy as one of the best guards to ever play the game of basketball.

Seventeen National Basketball Association All-Star selections, five NBA titles, an NBA Most Valuable Player and a two time scoring champion—Bryant’s list of accolades goes on and on. He is one of the best guards that’s ever stepped on the court. Despite this, however, his retirement has not been met with public outcry. This can be attributed, quite simply, to time.

Bryant’s play the last three seasons has not been on par with his normal standard. Even though he was injured in 2013-2014, it is still apparent that age has caught up with Bryant. In my opinion, his retirement is a few years late—not because I want to see him gone, but because very few can continue to play all-star caliber basketball once they pass the age of 35. I’m glad that he decided to hang it up because I don’t want to see him do further harm to his body.

Bryant’s retirement also allows the Lakers’ next star to step into the spotlight. Who this will be can only be told by time, but most would put money on forward Julius Randle or point guard D’Angelo Russell.

For a lot of people, however, they are happy to see Bryant go because of his egotistical personality and the criminal accusations he has faced. Not only is Bryant one of the most arrogant athletes to ever play the game, but he was accused of rape in 2003. Bryant claimed the sex was consensual and the charges were eventually dropped. The issue still remains controversial, however. Bryant was—and still is—married to Vanessa Bryant, who miscarried during the rape trial. Bryant took full responsibility for this.

So why is it that even after such controversy, people still respect and admire Bryant? It is because of what he brought to the game of basketball. He was such an explosive player and was a huge part of the legacy of the Lakers. The respect people had for him on the court seemed to compensate for the lack of respect that most had for him off the court. That being said, we will never forget what Bryant brought to the court each and every game.

Sobieraski receives Bounce Back award in Aspen

Geneseo women’s basketball senior forward Lea Sobieraski recently received the Bounce Back award from the Chris Klug Foundation for organ transplant recipients who have led inspiring post-transplant lives. On March 2, 2013, Sobieraski was rushed into surgery as her life was in the hands of the doctors and surgeons. She was diagnosed with Wilson’s disease, a rare inherited disorder that causes too much copper to accumulate in the liver, brain and other vital organs.

Prior to being diagnosed [with Wilson’s disease] I had never heard of it. Being a healthy collegiate athlete, I had never faced any injuries or serious illness, so this was definitely a shock,” she said. “I was very taken aback because I had realized my life was going to change—my life was on a hold. My life changed drastically, but I am a better person because of it. I now have a clear purpose in life and that is to use my story to spread awareness on the importance of organ donation.”

Forced to leave school as her condition deteriorated, all Sobieraski could do was play the unfortunate waiting game. Her condition became so debilitating that she was pushed to the top of the transplant waiting list. She was rushed into surgery and with a successful transplant, Sobieraski was ready to get back in the game.

“When I stood up after my transplant, the first thing I did was take a pretend jump shot,” she said.

From there, it was obvious there was no stopping her and what she would accomplish. Sobieraski is now an active advocate for organ transplants and has registered more than 50 students on campus to become donors. In addition, she was chosen as a commencement speaker for a local high school. Perhaps most importantly for Sobieraski, however, was that she was not only able to re-enroll at Geneseo, but she was also able to get back on the court for the women’s basketball team just months after her surgery.

“I knew it would be a lot of hard work and dedication, but I made a promise to myself I would do whatever it took to play the game I loved again,” Sobieraski said. “I never gave up on that goal. Playing basketball was my passion, it was what made me so happy.”

The Bounce Back award is presented to two transplant recipients. With over 80 nominations, the staff at CFK chose Sobieraski. As a result, she won a trip to Aspen, Colorado to attend the Aspen Summit for Life on Friday Dec. 4. More than deserving of the honor, Sobieraski was presented the award on Saturday Dec 5. 

By using her second chance in life to not only give back and restart where she left off before the surgery, but also to evolve as a person, Sobieraski has proven herself as a role model and success story that most certainly won’t be soon forgotten.

Moore continues standard of excellence for XC program

There are few times that a coach can come into a season with such lofty goals as cross country head coach Dan Moore had and then deliver them all. At the beginning of the season, Moore expressed his optimism that both his men’s and women’s teams had the potential to end up on the podium at the season’s conclusion. Both teams were not only able to deliver that result, but were able to exceed Moore’s expectations.

“I knew at the beginning of the season that our women had a very good chance to end the season on the podium,” Moore said. “The men’s team was very good and they kept getting better all year long. So to have both our teams end up on the podium was really something else.”

Moore explained that when the men and the women steamrolled their competition throughout the season, the athletes were all incredibly confident in their individual abilities and their work as a team to take them all the way to the top.

“Our athletes believed all year long that they were one of the best groups in the nation and they were able to prove that to themselves and to the rest of the country,” Moore said.

Moore added that he often told both teams that they were among the best in the nation; rhetoric that was based heavily in truth.

“[Former head coach Mike Woods ‘69] left me such a strong base and upperclassmen,” he said. “This was one of our strongest teams in a long time.”

This year’s Knights are one of only nine teams in the history of Division III cross country that has ever managed to get both their men’s and women’s teams on the podium in the same season, an accomplishment that Moore thinks very highly of.

“Most teams in the country are strong on only one side, either the men or the women. But our program is just that good; we can get both our squads up there,” Moore said. “It really amazes me.”

Considering that it is only his first season, being named the SUNYAC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year is a major accolade for Moore. Despite Woods’ impressive legacy, Moore did something that his predecessor wasn’t able to: take home hardware for both teams in the same year. But Moore was quick to admit that without the leadership over the past 20 years from Woods, this program would be nothing like it is now.

“Woodsie was and is the reason for our success. Without him, we wouldn’t have been able to do what we just did,” Moore said. “We owe everything to him.”

Given the amazing success of his first season, there seems to be little room for Moore and his teams to improve going forward—if only for both teams to take home first place. And that is a strong possibility for a group of such gifted athletes. The sky is the limit for these teams moving forward and Moore wouldn’t have it any other way.