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Going into the Hall of Fame… Princeton’s Sailer is thankful for her Haverford roots; Former Wings great Marechek makes another HOF

Friday, 7th November 2008

Categories Features, Girl's/Women's  

By Chris Goldberg, Posted 11/7/08

Chris Sailer says a major reason for her success as a college lacrosse coach can be traced back to her days at Manoa Elementary School and Haverford Junior High in the 1970s.

“We were fortunate to be where we were from,” said Sailer. “I look at a lot of women my age and I know they didn’t have the same experiences as we did.

“At that time the big college programs were Ursinus and West Chester and so many players who played there became coaches in the Philly area. We were the hotbed for field hockey and lacrosse and our coaches were great players.

“The top programs took interest in us and got us interested in sports. We always went to see (colleges) play, even in the national championships. The Philadelphia area was the place to be growing up.”

Sailer, after starring at Haverford High, went on to excel at Harvard in lacrosse and field hockey and soon landed a job as lacrosse coach at Princeton, hardly a power when she arrived in 1986. But Sailer quickly built the Tigers into a dominant force and tomorrow will be recognized as one of the inductees in the U.S. National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

The ceremony will be held at the Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley, Md. The 2008 induction class also consists of former Philadelphia Wings great Tom Marechek, Roberta Brennan, Lynn Craun, Pat Dillon, Dom Starsia, George Tracy, and Dick Watts.

At Haverford schools, Sailer had several well-regarded coaches, including Phyllis Corl Pillard, April Haines and Val Walchack. Walchack played at West Chester with Carole Kleinfelder, who recruited Sailer to Harvard.

Sailer was a two-time All-Ivy League selection in lacrosse at Harvard (class of 1981) and then coached for three years at Choate Rosemary Hall (Conn.) before spending one year as a lacrosse and field hockey assistant at Penn as an intern.

In 1986 Sailer got the task of rebuilding the lacrosse program at Princeton. In only her third year there, the Tigers made the NCAA Final Four and soon her team became one of the nation’s top programs, winning national tiles in 1994, 2002 and 2

A three-time IWLCA Division I Coach of the Year, Sailer has led Princeton to 17 NCAA tournament appearances, nine Ivy League titles and Her 282 career victories rank second among active coaches.

Sailer has also been inducted into the Haverford High School (1998), Harvard Varsity Club, and the US Lacrosse New England and Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania Lacrosse (2003) halls of fame.

“I was pretty fortunate that the freshman class I inherited was really strong,” Sailer said. “In my third year we went to the Final Four and that brought in a higher expectation level.

“That changed the tenor of the program and what I expected from player in terms of commitment, training and focus on details of the game. It showed them possibilities of what could be if we all worked hard and really made a commitment to what we were.”

Sailer said being inducted into the National Hall of Fame is the ultimate honor.

“It’s a huge honor,” she said. “This sport is such a huge part of my life; it really has defined so much of who I am. It’s an amazing honor with all those great players and coaches and officials. It’s a very humbling experience and I am very appreciative.”

Marechek, also a 2007 National Lacrosse League HOF inductee, was an All-American at Syracuse, a member of Canada’s national team, and now a successful coach at the scholastic level in Maryland. During his pro career, Marechek became the Wings’ all-time leading scorer over his 12 seasons with the franchise. He won four championships with the Wings.



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