Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/19/09
Former Temple great Mary Fran Riffel has been named interim head coach of the first-year women’s lacrosse program at Penn State Abington while Deb Andress continues her medical leave, athletics director Karen Weaver announced today
Andress, named to the post last winter, has been receiving treatments for a brain tumor since being diagnosed in the summer. Riffel, a four-time All-Atlantic 10 Conference for the Owls, has served as assistant coach at Ches-Mont League power Great Valley the past two years.
“Deb, as many in the lacrosse community know, has been battling a brain tumor since August. She and her family are very optimistic about her progress to date,” said Weaver. “She needs a little more time to adjust to the new routine. I know that she wants the program to get off to a great start. She will be welcomed back to the program in an appropriate capacity when she feels ready.”
“I am extremely disappointed that I won’t be able to coach the Penn State Abington Lady Lion lacrosse team in its inaugural season,” said Andress, a former Penn State great who has coached youth and club lacrosse for many years as is a director for Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Youth Lacrosse in her native Doylestown.
“The effects of my on going treatments make it difficult for me to put in the type of effort I feel is necessary to do the job well. I will continue to look forward to the day that I can return to help the program be successful.”
Riffel, the former Mary Fran Stepek, has been a board member of the Philadelphia chapter of US Lacrosse. She coordinates a number of youth lacrosse events in the Montgomery and Chester County areas.
She assisted Joe Tornetta at Great Valley. Last year the Patriots reached the District 1 Class AA finals where they fell to Springfield-Delco.
“I am incredibly excited to be a part of this inaugural lacrosse season at Penn State Abington,” said Stepek, who helped Temple reach the NCAA tournament four years. “I look forward to teaching these young women my knowledge of the sport as well as how to be a well rounded student athlete.”
Pam Brobst will continue with the program as assistant coach. Penn State Abington begins its inaugural season on March 7 at the Savannah (GA.) College of Art and Design.